Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East
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Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  227 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A magnificent reckoning with the extraordinary changes engulfing the Middle East, by one of our greatest reporters on the region

Robin Wright first landed in the Middle East on October 6, 1973, the day the fourth Middle East war erupted. She has covered every country and most major crises in the region since then, through to the rise of Al-Qaeda and the U.S. invasion of I...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2008)
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This book was published in 2008, and yet it foretells the Arab Spring of 2011 clearly. In the preface, Wright quotes a human rights activist:
“The despots in the Arab world are on their last gasp,” he reflected. “Just like any last-ditch battles, they will do a lot of stupid things and leave a lot of destruction. But these will be the last battles. People have already broken the fear barrier. They are as ready for change and democracy as East Europe was in the 1980s and as Latin America was in t
Ismail Elshareef
Robin Wright has always been my favorite reporter on Middle East affairs. The stories and accounts she has written in The Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker have consistently been impressive in quality and effortlessly impartial. Robin has a unique ability to leverage her vast network of resources to tap into the most intimate thoughts and feelings of that region and relay them uncensored to her audience. So needless to say, I was pretty excited to read this book to learn from her what future...more
This really helped me understand the Middle East situation a whole lot better. It's written so that I, without a lot of background in the Middle East conflict, could understand it. But it also had information that would be good to know for someone who wanted to enhance their education on the matter rather than start learning about it.
Peter Kempenich
Robin Wright's book is an excellent read. It was very informative and provides a very good description of recent events in the middle east. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Tina Ye
This book was a comprehensive and thoughtfully composed overview of recent Middle East events and history. I picked it up to help me gain a better understanding of all that is happening in the Middle East, and as far as this goal is concerned, the book did a great job. From the budding efforts of a mother agitating for fair elections in Egypt to the blunders of American foreign policy in Iraq, this book touches upon the political theaters in several major Middle Eastern countries (Syria, Lebanon...more
"Peace in the Middle East" and even "Democracy in the Middle East" are starting to become cliched phrases, lacking the cultural, political and historical background to fully comprehend the difficulties of reform. Looking over the Middle East's broad landscape, Robin Wright attempts to outline the players and reformers in a few representative Middle Eastern states. She does omit a few nations, most notably Saudi Arabia, but does include Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, th...more
C.G. Fewston
Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East (2008) by Robin Wright is a 464-page collection of historical and firsthand accounts up to 2007 of Palestine (and Israel), Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Morocco, and an Iraq influenced by the United States. What is fascinating is that several of these countries imploded into a revolution (Syria's turmoil is still ongoing) after this book was published. By reading Wright's accounts of these hostile environments the reader can get a detailed glimpse...more
This is a survey of the current political status in Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Morocco and Iraq. Through recent events, author Robin Wright sees hope for change in the region. She warns that the movements she cites are nascent and fragile, and steps backward sometimes follow steps forward. She also notes that she may be putting too much emphasis on the undercurrents. The book ends with the regressive effects of the US's democracy mission in Iraq. Despite all her disclaimers, as even...more
This was an informative and well-written analysis of the current state of affairs in a number of countries in the Middle East. Robin Wright has covered the Middle East for many publications over the past few decades, including The Los Angeles Times, The Sunday Times of London, CBS News, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune among many others. She currently writes for the Washington Post (I believe). Wright was able to interview leaders from all of th...more
I saw Robin Wright interviewed on MSNBC a few months ago when this book came out and decided to read it in hopes of getting some clue about what's going on in the Middle East and who the players are.

An amazing tour de force by a woman who has been covering the Middle East for over 30 years. The title comes from a lament by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who molded today's Turkey from the ruins of the old Ottoman Empire: "Neither sentiment nor illusion must influence our policy. Away with dreams and shad...more
Nice overview of the Middle East. She has extensive experience in the area (over 30 years, I believe she said) and has interviewed many key and sideline players. It seems well balanced and thoughtful. It covers a lot of territory - yes, pun intended - and is not I guesss the word is a 'comprehensive' history of the Middle East, but it is an excellent starting point in understanding some of the important issues, peoples, religions, and arguments involved in this area. She discusses the Palestinia...more
Patrick Farrell
The title of this book is very apt; it details the dreams of the future in the Middle East along with the shadows cast over the present. While major parts of the book are filled with optimistic stories from the ground in places such as Lebanon and Morocco, you can’t help but come away with the notion that the shadows may not recede for a long, long time to come. This book is highly readable and informative for both the novice and expert of Middle Eastern geopolitics.

As an aside, while reading Dr...more
Syed Abdullah
Overwhelmingly journalistic view-point is the characteristic of the respective book. Robin Wright builds her story telling, and not analysis, on the factual situation and rise in the conservative rightist constituencies in the pre-Arab Spring scenario. The book takes you through the peaking frustration of the Middle Eastern populace leading to a radical change in the near future - not that the geography might be able to absorb it or not.
Terry Earley
I listened to Robin Wright on a panel discussing Iran--US relations this morning on the Diane Rehm Show.

It reminded me how much I enjoyed her very informative book, Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East and her refreshing, and deeply informed comments on middle east issues.

She details in this book just how unique each government and culture is in the middle east. They each must be approached in a unique way.

If you want a good, foundational und...more
Can a nonfiction book [another book!] about the Mideast be a page turner? Yes indeed, this one is so far [I'm only 30 or so pages into it]. The author, recipient of the MacArthur genius grant, longtime journalist in the Mideast and all around Very Impressive woman opens by reporting that most Arab countries are heading, however glacially, toward democracy.

One of her points is that the mideast region is now the most stereotyped, and we need to see the reality, the diversity there.....the reason...more
Superblious coverage of the most contemporary political atmosphere in the middle east. Country by country, she tells stories of the primary political players, unraveling their ambitions and giving them human faces. She makes every situation understandable, reminding the reader at every step of what we ought to know from personal experience, that politics in these countries is both far more familiar and FAR more complex than we tend to portray them in the west.
A very interesting look at the sprouts of democracy throughout the Middle East, country by country. The only flaw seemed to be a pervasive assumption that progress toward full democracy is inevitable. Although history may seem to vindicate this assumption, I can't help but think that there could be a nation at some point that bucks this trend.

Regardless, I am much more knowledgeable about the Middle East's democratic actors than I was before.
Bookmarks Magazine

Plenty of books are published on the Middle East each year, but critics describe few as "optimistic" or "balanced." Wright earns such praise from nearly every reviewer. Even those who clearly disagree with some of her conclusions assert that Dreams and Shadows is one of the best recent books on the region and its struggles. The most common complaint is that Wright did not devote enough attention to a particular topic

Great overview of the goings-on in the Middle East. I went back and forth from the hardcover to the audiobook, and I wouldn't recommend that. The woman's theatre voice is distracting (Nearly all statements sound like EMPHATIC pro-nounce-ments!!!), and her pronunciation often sent me to the dictionary (one example: she pronounced Ahmadinejad something like "Ah-mah-din-gee").
Feb 14, 2009 Pam marked it as to-read
Jean and Carol,
Thanks for the recommendation of this book. I'm enjoying this book a great deal to try and gain an understanding of possible futures of the Middle East. Too bad George did not have Wright as an advisor. I probably am going to have to stop reading it for awhile as I finish my next book group book. This book I will definitely continue to read
Glenn Robinson
Extremely informative and while written in 2006-2007 has shown true to some of the recent events such as the Arab Spring and aftermath. The author, Ms. Wright, went over to each of the country and interviewed a wide slection of people to present a very true gauge of what was going on and where the region is headed. Very impressive.
can i just say that the many folks who ignored my plea a couple years ago to read this book about the rumblings of democratic movements in the middle east might be regretting it in these heady days. and of course a fair amount would be out of date by now. which doesn't change the fact that almost every chapter gave me goosebumps.
This is a very sensitive, insightful narrative of the nature of democracy and how it has manifested, struggled, fallen, and been revived throughout the middle east. It leaves with you for a yearning of more, more narratives, more personal histories, and for these determined people to succeed in their quest for their countries.
Jul 20, 2012 AmblingBooks marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, history
A magnificent reckoning with the extraordinary changes engulfing the Middle East, by Robin Wright, one of our greatest reporters on the region.

Listen to Dreams and Shadows on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.
It was very interesting though, and I would probably have given it more stars, but I fear (through my own fault) I didn't follow it super well. Perhaps not the best book to listen to while chasing a little one around the house. Still, I felt like I did learn a fair amount about the Middle East.
Nov 04, 2008 SB rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has difficulty understanding the middle east
Recommended to SB by: new acquisitions at library
Very well written by an author that has spent lots of time on the ground talking to the people that live in the countries she discussed. She had access to high level officials as well as ordinary people. The book is well organized and each chapter deals with a different country.
Jay Maqsood
Very good writing, extremely informative, and a page-turner. Sometimes - when it came to Iran and Palestine - the tone was not neutral and the narrative seemed biased. Some other key middle eastern nations were left out that I wish had been included. Overall, a good read.
Merry Mccreery
Best book on the recent Middle East -- both hopeful and depressing. Hopeful -- the great number of democracy movements in the middle east. Depressing -- the negative effect which the American involvement in Iraq has had on those same movements.

Merged review:

I am loving this book! It is not a history or explanation of the conflict in the Middle East (boring). It is written by journalist, and she writes about men and women in ME countries who are leading small movements from within to lead their countries toward a better future.
Robin Wright documents her views on life in the Middle East based on the 30 years she lived and journalistically covered those countries. With so much happening in the area at just this time, her history was timely and broadens my interest in today's happenings.
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