In This Review

Arab Fall: How the Muslim Brotherhood Won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days
Arab Fall: How the Muslim Brotherhood Won and Lost Egypt in 891 Days
By Eric Trager
Georgetown University Press, 2016, 296 pp

Trager’s book is based on extensive interviews with senior and midlevel leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which in 2012 captured the country’s presidency and a parliamentary plurality in Egypt’s first free elections in decades. Trager chronicles the 891 days that followed at a level of detail that only Egyptoholics like me might appreciate. Trager asks a very big question and delivers an unequivocal answer: Are the Brotherhood and its offshoots the face of moderate Islam, capable of sharing power in a democratic, pluralistic system, or is the group a totalitarian entity that tolerates no internal debate about its mission of bringing Islamic government to Egypt and the world? Trager believes the totalitarian face is real, and the moderation mainly a mask. For that reason, he argues, the efforts of the Obama administration to engage with the presidency of Mohamed Morsi, a former Brotherhood leader, were misguided and ultimately unproductive, although Trager notes that there were no good alternatives. But if Trager is right, and if political Islam is here to stay, the Egyptian story has bleak implications for the future of the Muslim world.