In This Review

A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, From Tahrir Square to ISIS
A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, From Tahrir Square to ISIS
By Robert F. Worth
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016, 272 pp
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As the Beirut bureau chief for The New York Times, Worth has seen a lot, and he writes compellingly about the dashed hopes and personal tragedies that followed the 2011 uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. He introduces readers to people such as Mohamed Beltagy, a relatively young Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt who tried to steer the group toward compromise following its electoral victories in 2012. Beltagy wound up in jail, sentenced to death; a sniper killed his teenage daughter. In Jableh, Syria, Worth meets two teenage girls—a Sunni and an Alawite—whose friendship is ruined by sectarian identities that had meant little to them before 2011. In Yemen, Worth watches as the despot Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been driven from power in 2011, reemerges to join forces with Shiite Houthi rebels. These stories don’t quite add up to a bigger picture, but they all revolve around Arabs’ quest for a state that is fair and free of corruption and that treats its people as citizens. Worth avers that support for the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) may represent a perverse version of that quest.