Synopses & 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 Iraq. For all the drama of the past, however, the region's most decisive traumas are unfolding today as the Middle East struggles to deal with trends that have already reshaped the rest of the world. And for all the darkness, there is also hope. Some of the emerging trends give cause for greater optimism about the future of the Middle East than at any time since the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948.
Dreams and Shadows is an extraordinary tour d'horizon of the new Middle East, with on-the-ground reportage of the ideas and movements driving change across the region-and the obstacles they confront. Through the powerful storytelling for which the author is famous, Dreams and Shadows ties together the players and events in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, the Gulf states, and the Palestinian territories into a coherent vision of what lies ahead.
A marvelous field report from the center of the storm, the book is animated by the characters whose stories give the region's transformation its human immediacy and urgency. It is also rich with the history that brought us to this point. It is a masterpiece of the reporter's art and a work of profound and enduring insight.
"Despite having lost several of her friends in the 1983 US Embassy bombing in Beirut, Wright (The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran) is guardedly optimistic for the Middle East's future: 'a generation after the Beirut bombing, Islamic extremism is no longer the most important, interesting, or dynamic force in the Middle East.' Her observations, of a 'budding culture of change'-even, perhaps, a 'renaissance'-are bolstered by platinum credentials; for more than 30 years, Wright has been covering the region for major American publications including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and Foreign Affairs. She illuminates her assessment with stories of the new 'voices in the region' pushing for a more open, democratic society: activists, reformers, political leaders and ordinary citizens (like an Egyptian 'middle-aged soccer mom' so outraged to learn of female government agents beating female demonstrators that she became an activist). Wright also tackles the big targets; though a staunch supporter of Israel, Wright sees the potential for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, in an effort to maintain democracy in Palestine, as a positive harbinger of change for the entire region. Further interviews, anecdotes, a crystalline sense of the area's multifarious history and a clear message-practical, progressive change requires 'sorting out the past or at least trying to move beyond it'-make this a vital, compelling and surprisingly uplifting piece of reporting." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Few Middle East observers have a keener eye for the region than Wright, and she is a talented trend spotter. Two decades ago her Sacred Rage foreshadowed the appeal of militant Islam and the challenge it posed. With Dreams and Shadows she illuminates, in riveting fashion, the hopeful political personalities and developments in what many mistakenly see as the uninterrupted bleakness of the Middle East. Her insightsdrawn from vast experience, a remarkable array of Middle Eastern contacts, and an unblinking sense of realismare cause for cautious optimism.
Representative Tom Lantos, Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Dreams and Shadows offers a panoramic perspective on the prospects of change in the Middle East. Wright brings to life an array of forces, voices, and ideasboth inspiring and troublingin an engaging political travelogue. Readers will come away with a better understanding of the regions rich past, a sense of its current stirrings, and a view into what may lie ahead.
Former National Security Adviser Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft
A compelling account of a turbulent region whose future is inescapably bound to our own. Anyone who wants to understand the seismic forces at work would be well advised to read Dreams and Shadows.
Senator Joseph Biden, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Very rarely is our world so faithfully captured. The Middle East in recent decades has only become more complex. Wrights insights and analyses are critical for any sensible understanding of what is happening. Her greatest contribution is to grasp the deep currents of hope, humanity, and dignity that anchor the often turbulent societies of the region. This book is essential reading.
Rami G. Khouri, syndicated columnist, Beiruts Daily Star
Written in the best style of a veteran traveler and expert, Dreams and Shadows tells the story of the worlds most volatile area, going through its most profound changes after decades of stagnation. Wrights journey among reformers and reactionaries, clerics and democracy advocates is a necessary reference to anyone interested in understanding the Middle Easts undercurrentsand it taught me quite a lot about our neighborhood.
Aluf Benn, diplomatic editor of the Israeli daily Haaretz
Insightful and passionate. Wright is well aware of the dilemmas facing the Middle East. But she also reminds us that we need not resort to military force and violence or resign ourselves to compromise with extremism and tyranny. Since tyranny and extremism as well as democracy and freedom are not defined by geographical, national, religious, or ethnic boundaries, hope lies in the aspirations of those (our true allies) in the region who against all odds are fighting for pluralism, openness, and human rights.
Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
"Fascinating reading for anyone who likes true human drama. Only Wright could have written Dreams and Shadows because only Wright has traveled so widely, interviewed such diverse leaders, and brought so much wisdom to analyzing the region's many-sided puzzles. This volume, full of mesmerizing detail and large truths, sets a new standard for scholarship on the modern Middle East."
-Secretary Madeleine Albright
"Robin Wright brings her enormous knowledge of the Middle East, gained over years of reporting, to narrate how the region is undergoing enormous social change brought on by technology and globalization, and why, despite Iraq, democracy remains on the region's agenda."
-- Francis Fukuyama, Johns Hopkins University Professor of International Political Economy and author of America at the Crossroads
"In Dreams and Shadows, Robin Wright offers a compelling account of the political contours that are defining the modern Middle East. Drawing upon her decades of travel and reporting from the region, Wright reveals the undercurrents of the latest fundamental searching in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, as well as the labyrinthine politics of Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Iran, and others. With her impressive access to the region's political and opinion leaders, Wright brings us to the ideological battle lines of the new Middle East, including promising openings and awakenings too often followed by disappointment and repression. She describes autocrats, democrats, and theocrats skirmishing in increasingly unpredictable ways."
-- U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Dreams and Shadows is a lucid and comprehensive look at tumultuous events that have shaped the Middle East and will continue to chart its future. Relying on thirty five years of reporting Robin Wright provides a rich tapestry of information and insight that is enjoyable to read and will also go a long way in providing understanding of the Middle East and the challenges that it presents U.S. foreign policy."
--Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future
"This is the best of all possible worlds: An old hand guides us through the changes in post-9/11 Middle East, and is able to sort out in a sober, smart way what is really going on."
-Thomas E. Ricks, author of FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
"Wright has long been one of the best-informed American journalists covering the Middle East, and her reputation is born out here....Her book will be essential reading for anybody who wants to know where it is heading."-New York Times Book Review."
-The New York Times Book Review
"If there is such a thing as a pinnacle in the landscape of international journalism, Robin Wright surely stands atop it."
-The New York Review of Books
"A thought-provoking and eminently readable look at the current and future generation of leaders in that important, politically troubled region. . . . Wright's skills at old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting are very much in evidence."
-The Boston Globe
"Dreams and Shadows" is an extraordinary tour de horizon of the new Middle East, with on-the-ground reportage of the ideas and movements driving change across the region--and the obstacles they confront.
The transformation of the Middle East is an issue that will absorb-and challenge-the world for generations to come; Dreams and Shadows
is the book to read to understand the sweeping political and cultural changes that have occurred in recent decades. Drawing on thirty-five years of reporting in two dozen countries-through wars, revolutions, and uprisings as well as the birth of new democracy movements and a new generation of activists-award-winning journalist and Middle East expert Robin Wright has created a masterpiece of the reporter's art and a work of profound and enduring insight into one of the most confounding areas of the world.
About the Author
Robin Wright is an American journalist currently covering U.S. foreign policy for The Washington Post
. She has reported for The Washington Post
, The Los Angeles Times
, The Sunday Times
(of London), CBS News and The Christian Science Monitor
, and has served as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. She has also written for The New Yorker
, The Atlantic Monthly
, Foreign Affairs
, Foreign Policy
, The New York Times
, and The International Herald Tribune
Awards and Honors
Wright received the U.N. Correspondents Association Gold Medal for coverage of international affairs, the National Magazine Award for reportage from Iran in The New Yorker, and the Overseas Press Club Award for "best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative" for coverage of African wars. For coverage of U.S. foreign policy, she was named journalist of the year by the American Academy of Diplomacy for “distinguished reporting and analysis of international affairs ” and won the National Press Club Award and the Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting. Wright has also been the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.
Wright has been a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institution, Yale University, Duke University, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California. She also lectures extensively around the United States and has been a television commentator on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC programs, including "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," "This Week," “Nightline," the PBS Newshour, "Frontline," and "Larry King Live."