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Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our Worldby Vali Nasr
Synopses & Reviews
Renowned Middle East expert Vali Nasr's bestselling The Shia Revival profoundly transformed the debate about the Iraq War by unveiling how the Sunni-Shia rift was driving the insurgency. Now, in Forces of Fortune, Nasr presents a paradigm-changing revelation that will transform the understanding of the Muslim world at large. He reveals that there is a vital but unseen rising force in the Islamic world — a new business-minded middle class — that is building a vibrant new Muslim world economy and that holds the key to winning the cold war against Iran and extremists.
His groundbreaking analysis will utterly rewrite the wisdom about how the West can best contend with the threat of Islamic extremism, as well as about what we can expect from the Muslim world in the future. The great battle for the soul of Iran, the Arab world, Pakistan, and the entire region will be fought not over religion, Nasr reveals, but over business and capitalism.
With a deft combination of historical narrative and eye-opening contemporary on-the-ground reporting from his constant trips to the region, Nasr takes us behind the news, so dominated by the struggle against extremists and the Taliban, to introduce a Muslim world we've not seen; a Muslim world in which the balance of power is being reshaped by an upwardly mobile middle class of entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, and avid consumers — who can tip the scales away from extremist belligerence. His insights into the true situations in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the crucial bright spots of Dubai and Turkey provide a whole new way of thinking about the troubles and prospects in the region.
Drawing on his in-depth knowledge of the Muslim world's tortured history, he offers a powerful reassessment of why both extremism and anti-Americanism took hold in the region — not because of an inevitable clash of cultures or the nature of Islam, but because of the failure of this kind of authentic middle class to develop in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, largely due to the insidious effects first of colonialism and then of top-down dictatorial regimes, often supported by the West. He then shows that the devoutly Islamic yet highly modern Muslims of what he calls the critical middle — in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and the stealth force behind the extraordinary growth of aggressively capitalist Dubai — are finally the middle class the region has desperately needed. They are building a whole new economy — as the middle classes did in both India and China — and their distinctive blending of Islam and capitalism is the key to bringing about lasting reform and to defeating fundamentalism. They are people in the region the West can and must do business with.
Forces of Fortune offers a transformative understanding of the Muslim world and its possible future that is sure to spark lively debate and to play a vital role in bringing about a sea change in thinking about the conflict with Islam.
"Nasr (The Shia Revival) offers a fresh look at the future of religious extremism in the Middle East, suggesting that 'the great battle... for the soul of the region will be fought not over religion, but over business and capitalism.' He posits that a rising middle class — seen most dramatically in Dubai, but a force across the whole Muslim world — is far more interested in economic success than in fervent religiosity, even as many bring a distinctly Muslim approach to the business they do. He points out that while the Reformation created the modern world, it wasn't that era's 'intolerant faith' that made the transformation but rather 'trade and commerce,' adding that 'values gain currency when they serve the economic and social interests of people.' His in-depth analysis of the failures of various governments to provide for their people, as well as special focus on what is working in Turkey, and what is crippling Pakistan, helps drive his thesis home. Nasr's analysis can't help being somewhat hobbled by the fact that it depends heavily on the shifting sands of history-in-the-making, but his approach is sensible, well-argued and deserves close attention. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From a "New York Times"-bestselling author comes a paradigm-changing revelation of the misunderstood rising force in the Islamic world--a non-extremist new middle class--that holds the key to winning the new Cold War against Iran and extremists.
Vali Nasr’s The Shia Revival turned the debate about the Iraq War on its head, unveiling how the Shia-Sunni rift fueled the Iraqi insurgency, and shooting onto the bestseller lists. Now Fateful Crescent will utterly rewrite the wisdom about the Islamic threat and the "clash of civilizations."
With Iran fast becoming a hegemonic powerhouse, embroiling the U.S. in what’s been described as a new Cold War, Vali Nasr reveals there is also a powerful counterforce in the Islamic world to that of the Iranian regime, so far unseen in the West. A vast tidal force is swelling up of upwardly mobile entrepreneurs, consumers, and investors who can tip the scales of power away from extremist belligerence. With a deft combination of historical narrative and contemporary on-the-ground reporting, Nasr demystifies these devout yet development-minded Muslims of the "critical middle"—the stealth force behind the extraordinary growth of aggressively capitalist Dubai—showing that they are people the West can and must do business with. By building strong ties with them, Nasr demonstrates, the tide of extremism can be turned. Fateful Crescent will spark lively debate and play a vital role in bringing about a sea change in thinking about the conflict with Islam.
About the Author
Vali Nasr is a professor of international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a senior fellow of The Dubai Initiative at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time and has appeared on Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, The Situation Room, Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, the Today show, Charlie Rose, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report. He lives in Massachusetts.
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