Narrated by dozens of activists and everyday individuals, this book documents the unprecedented events that led to the collapse of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Beginning in 2011, these stories offer unique access to the message that inspired citizens to act, their experiences during revolt, and the lessons they learned from some of the most dramatic changes and appalling events to occur in the history of the Arab world. The riveting, revealing, and sometimes heartbreaking stories in this volume also include voices from Syria.
Featuring participants from a variety of social and educational backgrounds and political commitments, these personal stories of action represent the Arab Spring's united and broad social movements, collective identities, and youthful character. For years, the volume's participants lived under regimes that brutally suppressed free expression and protest. Their testimony speaks to the multifaceted emotional, psychological, and cultural factors that motivated citizens to join together to struggle against their oppressors.
In this collection, University of Utah professor Al-Saleh brings together personal stories from the democratic uprisings against authoritarian governments that spread throughout the Arab world in 2011. The goal of this assembled testimony, according to historian Peter Sluglett's preface, is to urge readers to "reassess the potential for social, political, and cultural change in the Arab world." Assembling a wide variety of voices men and women; faculty and students; young and old; fighters on the ground in Libya and "techno-activists" in the Egyptian diaspora fueling the revolution via social media Al-Saleh illustrates the shared sentiment that spurred so many to join in unified civil resistance. While inspiring, these selections shoulder a certain sadness as they reveal the oppression, bloodshed, and unfinished business of a revolution that continues to evolve. Still, there is also a sense of hope, and this proves Al-Saleh's most stirring touch. The cumulative effect of the pieces is to insist that leaders, in the Middle East and outside of it, must listen to and heed the voices of the Arab Spring before lasting positive change can take place.