In This Review

Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East
Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East
By David D. Kirckpatrick
Viking Press, 2018, 384 pp

There are many accounts of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, the country’s first free elections the next year, and the subsequent military coup that deposed the new president, Mohamed Morsi, but this book offers the best retelling yet. Kirkpatrick was present for many of the main events, including the massacre of hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian security forces in August 2013. Kirkpatrick’s account makes clear that for him, there were few good guys and one overwhelmingly bad guy: Egypt’s “deep state.” The United States, meanwhile, comes across as ignorant and confused. U.S. President Barack Obama and his ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, were lonely voices arguing that the U.S. government should respect the electoral process. John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state; Chuck Hagel, U.S. secretary of defense; James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command; and Michael Flynn, the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, all supported the military, whatever the cost, as an asset in the fight against Islamic extremism. They won the argument, and Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has since cracked down on human rights to an extent that would have made his predecessors blush.