The Egyptians

A Radical History of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution

From award-winning journalist Jack Shenker, an “intimate and comprehensive portrait” (Pankaj Mishra) of the battle for contemporary Egypt that marks a stunning debut from a rising star

“I started reading this and couldn’t stop. It’s a remarkable piece of work, and very revealing. A stirring rendition of a people’s revolution as the popular forces that Shenker vividly depicts carry forward their many and varied struggles, with radical potential that extends far beyond Egypt.“ —Noam Chomsky

In The Egyptians, journalist Jack Shenker uncovers the roots of the uprising that succeeded in toppling Hosni Mubarak, one of the Middle East’s most entrenched dictators, and explores a country now divided between two irreconcilable political orders. Challenging conventional analyses that depict contemporary Egypt as a battle between Islamists and secular forces, The Egyptians illuminates other, equally important fault lines: far-flung communities waging war against transnational corporations, men and women fighting to subvert long-established gender norms, and workers dramatically seizing control of their own factories.

Putting the Egyptian revolution in its proper context as an ongoing popular struggle against state authority and economic exclusion, The Egyptians explains why the events of the past five years have proved so threatening to elites both inside Egypt and abroad. As Egypt’s rulers seek to eliminate all forms of dissent, seeded within the rebellious politics of Egypt’s young generation are big ideas about democracy, sovereignty, social justice, and resistance that could yet change the world.


“The central argument of this meticulous, carefully researched and passionately argued book is that the battle in Egypt, as in almost every other place in the world, is between a dominant global neoliberal capitalist system and the people whose lives and livelihoods it is destroying. . . . The Egyptians is not just about the revolution, it is an act within it; making its case, documenting its achievements and tragedies, pushing forward its narrative. It celebrates the collective and enacts it in its co-operation with texts and witnesses.”
—Ahdaf Soueif, author of The Map of Love
“This superbly written book documents the great victories—and terrible setbacks—of people thirsting for democracy and social justice. A courageous writer who gives voice to the hopes and fears of the people of Egypt.”
—Owen Jones
“Intimate and comprehensive.”
—Pankaj Mishra
“This is the deepest and most comprehensive account of Egypt’s revolution in the English language, and it will set the agenda for debate throughout the Arab world.”
—Paul Mason, author of Postcapitalism
“Essential reading for those who want to go beyond the conventional wisdom and understand the real causes of upheaval in the Arab world.”
—Lindsey Hilsum, author of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution

News and Reviews

The New York Times

Jack Shenker writes in the New York Times about Egypt's rickety dictatorship.

Washington Post

Marc Lynch calls The Egyptians a "sweeping look at the long trajectory of popular mobilization, local battles and political conflict, transcending the travails of the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution and the July 3, 2013, military coup" in the Washington Post.

Goodreads Reviews