Amir-Hussein Radjy

Best of Enemies

Making the Arab World: Nasser, Qutb, and the Clash that Shaped the Middle East


Princeton University Press 483pp £24.95 order from our bookshop

Gamel Abdel Nasser’s Philosophy of the Revolution (1955) is written in a charismatic style, though it is thin on substance – much like the man who purportedly penned this booklet. What is blatantly clear is Nasser’s belief in the Egyptian army. ‘Throughout my life I have had faith in militarism,’ the Egyptian leader declares. ‘The soldier’s sole duty is to die on the frontiers of his country.’ In the decades since Nasser wrote this, Egypt’s army, while lacking any strategic vision for the country, has proved itself tactically brilliant at dominating Egyptian politics, taking up and brutally dispensing with political allies on the Left and Right, secular and Islamist, as befits its interests. Nasser, before leading the July 1952 Free Officers coup that overthrew the monarchy and placed the army in control of Egypt, was briefly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. As president, he lost every war he fought against Israel, but he succeeded in brutally crushing the Brotherhood.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,