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Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  370 ratings  ·  59 reviews
A decade after the 9/11 attacks, this groundbreaking book takes readers deep into rebellions against both autocrats and extremists that are redefining politics, culture, and security threats across the Islamic world. The awakening involves hundreds of millions of people. And the political transformations— and tectonic changes—are only beginning.

Robin Wright, an acclaimed f
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Simon Schuster (first published July 12th 2011)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  370 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Jacqueline Howett
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
My book recommendation on my blog this week is Robin Wright "Rock The Casbah." Given to reflections on the Arab world, this was a book I had seen around for a while, but it wasn't until it really came to my attention while watching T.V. and Charlie Rose was interviewing the author Robin Wright on her book "Rock The Casbah," that I felt compelled to recommend it. And I think we have Charlie Rose to thank for bringing out the best in this author with all that is hope and light. She relates so well ...more
Hank Mishkoff
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
With a subtitle like "Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World," you'd think this book might have something to do with the events of the Arab Spring, wouldn't you? Well, you'd be wrong. The only relationship is that the book is an obvious attempt to *capitalize* on the events of the Arab Spring, which it barely mentions. I'm guessing that the book was largely written before the Arab Spring, but was then revised so that current events would help boost sales. Unfortunately, the most significant ...more
The Middle East is in a shockwave. A tidal wave of youth has overturned much of the old order, fighting with words against the authoritarian regimes of the past. They do not seek a regression to radical beliefs. As America is not the Ku Klux Klan or Tim McVeigh, the Middle East is not Al Qaeda. They want peace, freedom, human rights, better living conditions.

You learn to sympathize with the uprising people. Their worries and thoughts about life become yours. The book is anecdotal and upbeat in t
Khouloud Khammassi
May 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: research
I started reading the book thinking that the "Casbah" refers to the area of the Tunisian capital, Tunis, where protests and later sit-ins were held. It was in a way. However, by the beginning of the third chapter, I realized that the book wasn't what I thought it would be. I did not expect a piece on the Tunisian Revolution (and I am avoiding here using the cliched phrase of "the Arab Spring") as I know Tunisia is not on the geopolitical map yet, but I did expect a book on the different uprising ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, nonfiction
This book does a fantastic job presenting the exciting movement within Islam to reclaim the religion from militant terrorists. Although I disagree with Robin Wright's term, "counter-jihad," I was impressed with how widely she explored this movement. From my understanding of Islam, jihad is a non-negotiable religious tenant; it is supposed to refer to a spiritual struggle. Wright claims that Muslim activists of today are "counter-jihad," but they are, in fact, clearly engaged in jihad--just not t ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scribd, non-fiction
Although this book has been illuminating about nascent dissident movements and figures in the Islamic world. I think it is full of wishful thinking and over-interpretation of some positive anti-extremism trends.

The author tries to build a case that modern Muslims are increasingly going against extremism and tries to point out signs of this. She is simply over optimistic. As the saying goes "one swallow does not make a spring", and the proverbial Arab Spring was this little sad swallow coming bef
Oct 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is really going on in the Islamic World? Is there more to the story of Islam, extremism, and protests throughout the Middle East then what is captured in the daily blogs, news articles, and positions of the so called "experts"?
What do you really know about the causes of turmoil, rage, and rebellion that has overtaken the Islamic world?
Sure it is easy to form an opinion based on unreliable reporting, personal beliefs, and commonality with Western ideology; but do any of these give an accura
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
Journalist Robin Wright takes Western readers on a whirlwind tour of the cultural and political upheavals roiling the Muslim Middle East. But rather than merely recount the already well dissected stories of the Jasmine Revolution, the Egyptian uprising, and so on, as I expected her to, she focuses instead on a broad-based series of cultural and political efforts to push back against the militancy and violence perpetuated by Al Qaeda and other extremists.
Although she ranges far afield in her stu
Shaghaf Awad
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
FINALLY.. A book about the middle east by a writer who knows what she is talking about! Islam is misunderstood. Of that I have no doubt. And maybe more so by muslims themselves. It was refreshing to read a western point of view that is not based on sterotypes or on what the media chooses to offer. I may not agree or approve of many things in the book, but I have to say that Ms. Wright did a very good job indeed.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, library_books
Started off slow, but got better with more traction towards the middle of the book. I wouldn't call it general interest, in the sense of "I don't know all that much about what's going on in the region, so maybe this'll be a good overview to catch me up to speed?" Where it really stands out is the interplay, for lack of a better term, between Islam and democracy. Author really knows her stuff without being an intellectual wonk about it.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
With the benefit of retrospect (so much has happened since publication in 2011) the limitations of this book are manifest.
But despite, and perhaps because of this, it is well worth reading.
The subtitle is frustratingly deceptive. This by no means covers "the Islamic world", but focuses on the Middle East and to a lesser degree North Africa, with a strong bent towards the relationship with the Anglo-Saxon West. The author is well qualified to speak on this, and puts forward many interesting idea
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Part of the book briefly explained the histories of several regions in the Middle East and Arab world, with focus on the recent uprisings of the past few years. I found this to be most interesting, as I do believe that many western people do not fully understand the meaning and causes of each countries uprising.

The author went on to squash a few false (or, overly dramatic) images that westerners have of Islamic folk. She clarified how people in these regions really live their lives away from th
Kelsey Breseman
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Wright writes accessibly and with obvious expertise. The timing of the book is odd as it's pre-ISIS and hopeful, but it's a good introduction to the modern forms of unrest.

If you were going to read only one part of this book, read Part 2, where Wright gives chapter-by-chapter discussion of Islamic rebellion through hip-hop, poetry, and comedy.
Ray Allen
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very important read to understand how social media affects the world around us. More importantly in the middle East!
Melody Boggs
I'm a typical, post 9/11 American. I don't know much about Islam, the Arabic world, or much about the Muslims that live both in the United States and in the Middle East. I don't know much about the Shiite and Sunni conflict nor what the difference is between militant Islam and republic Islam (and which one Muslims prefer the most as the true Islam). And the true meaning of jihad? Forget about it.

That's why this semester, I chose as my non-Western History class the History of the Modern Middle E
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly optimistic survey of what the author calls the counter-jihad movement across the Muslim world. (Actually, the book focuses almost entirely on the Arab world plus Iran). While the framing device is the 2011 "Arab Spring", Wright's thesis is that the uprisings are the culmination of a ten year counter-movement that developed as a reaction against the 9/11 attacks.

At times it feels like Wright is cherry picking any bright spots she can find to give the impression that the entire Arab/Persi
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
*Disclosure: A friend of mine helped research this book.

Wright's in-depth look at many different facets of Muslim-Western relations in the decade after 9/11 is up to the minute. It includes all (at least the beginnings of all) the 2011 revolutions in Arab countries. She gives the reader just enough background knowledge to understand today's events in the context of Islam's ancient and twisting history. Speaking to individual Muslims and reporting their personal opinions should give Islam a new f
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Robin Wright fills in the blanks for Western readers (this one included) who have not knowing the story behind the "Arab Spring" and have not been aware of the consequences. In the first part she puts a human face of the uprisings, introducing us to young Muslims with various parts in recent history. The book was published in 2011 and already threatens to be out of date.

She gives a hopeful view of Islam in part 2, devoted to artistic and cultural changes taking place before during and after the
Sarah Bringhurst
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you read only one book about Arabs or Muslims this year, make it this one. A journalist with decades of experience in the Middle East, Robin Wright has given us an intimate look into the Islamic world today, and how ordinary Muslims are vocally rejecting the extremism that led to 9/11, and working to build themselves a peaceful and democratic future. Through dozens of interviews ranging from an Iranian stand-up comedian to an Egyptian human rights activist, Wright illustrates what she describ ...more

I thought it was very good. The chapters had clever titles... a little long but still good. I learned a lot from reading this book about life in the Middle East. Some parts I found appaling like how people would just kill themselves if they were fed up with the government and the treatment of women there! Gential mutilation?? I'm glad I live in the US where that doesn't happen but I feel bad for women over there who have had this done to them. I liked how a chapter was about modern music in Mus
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book. From an author who has spent a lot of time in the region, Robin Wright gives a behind-the-scenes look at the protests that began in the Middle East last year and still continue today. Insightful and thought provoking, the author interviews ordinary and extraordinary people about their lives and their journey toward the protests, and also how they have been impacted by 9/11 and Americans' changed perception of them since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pent ...more
Nikhil P. Freeman
Not very often do you get read history in the making. Wright's work is a firsthand look into the Arab Spring of 2011. Wright goes beneath the surface to understand the motivations of the populace. A large part of the nonviolent uprising has to do with changing the narrative of the Islamic faith from religious fanatics and battling peacefully against propped up autocrats, but internal jihad, day-to-day struggles is also fueling this nonviolent uprising. Human rights--civil rights, women's rights, ...more
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having had the privilege to travel earlier this year on a cruise of the Adriatic with Robin Wright as guest lecturer, I wanted to read her book, written at the apogee of hope of the Arab Spring. In less than five years, the hope seems to have burned out with little left but misery of a different kind. It was good to be reminded that there must be a spark of that hope remaining among the youth of the region, who may once again rise to seek freedom and self-actualization. Robin Wright encouraged u ...more
Taher Haitami
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer-reading
Rock the Kasbah is a book about rebellion and extremism in the Islamic world. It explains that the extremist and twisted interpretation of Islam is losing popularity in the Islamic world. It implies that “Muslims” who join terrorist groups are often uneducated and misinterpret the Quran. What I liked most about this book was that it explained the hypocrisy of the Saudi Arabian clerics who claims to be educated scholars of Islam and hide behind their false idea of “the will of God” to justify une ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-east
Very timely and approachable. Reads as fast as a long newspaper/news magazine article. Wright pulls together a wide range of topics. Some are as serious as Neda, the young woman shot during Iran's post-election street demonstrations two years ago. Some are as fun as the Axis of Evil comedy tours by American Muslim stand-up comedians.

This book is about how people under 30 are changing the Middle East. Guerrilla training in Afghanistan is out; rap music and pink hejabs are in. Wright doesn't over
This book comprises several parts. The first, about 100 pages or so, summarizes the Arab Spring movements that ousted long-time rulers in Tunisia and Egypt, and is exactly that: a good recap of what happened in those countries, with glances at some if their neighbors. The second part of the book was much more interesting to me, a review of cultural and social changes going on across the Muslim world that add up to a repudiation of extremist violence. As Wright tours us through Islamic hip-hop, c ...more
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wright's book is a valuable window into the events of the past few years, and in a broader sense, the past decades.

She takes the reader inside the various revolutions in the Arab world, but not just on the political revolution-level, but also on the cultural and social levels.

I found it to be a valuable addition to other works I have read, and I commend it to those who are willing to hear a different voice from what we commonly hear in the media.

She is a very good writer, and I'll be interested
Peter D.
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book gives an up-to-date summary of the reaction of the Arab world to terrorism. It jives with my 40 years of experience in the Middle East and indicates that the author understands the political, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds of the various Middle Eastern countries. She combines the individual reactions in various countries to events that seem to represent an overall Arab country viewpoint. She points out that terrorism is losing popularity as such and basic Islamic principl ...more
Glenn Robinson
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Impressed. Robin does just a wonderful job of connecting with the average men and women of the Middle East to get insights into their thoughts, their desires, hopes and dreams. The theme is the counter-Jihad movement to counteract the violence of the Jihadists and Al-Qaeda. This book covers, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and other countries during the tumultuous times of 2006-2011. She covers a shift in the leadership thoughts of going from preaching violence and death to America to peace and pro ...more
Jun 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This book seems to have two messages. The author has studied for several decades the emergence of Muslim moderates, or anti-jihadists. She tries to connect this with the Arab uprisings of 2011, to point the way to a more peaceful Middle East. Unfortunately, she misses many important trends in the region. Her entire coverage of both Syria and Iraq in this book amounts to less than two pages, and she provides no insight into how these situations have actually increased extremism. She also doesn't ...more
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