ON-Lion Letter

In November, the Hoover Institution Press released In This Arab Time:  The Pursuit of Deliverance, by the late Bradley Prize recipient Fouad Ajami, who was a Hoover Institution senior fellow.  In the collection of thought-provoking essays, Ajami brings into focus the current struggles of the Middle East through detailed historical analysis and a personal perspective immersed in the literature of the time and place.

"More than a year ago, Fouad and I discussed his gathering and editing some of the eloquent passages of his prescience relating to the times unfolding in the Middle East," according to John Raisian, director of the Hoover Institution, projects of which are supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  "He seemed intrigued, but hesitant -- his modesty was ever-present.  Fortunately, he decided to engage in the effort, from which we all will benefit."

Ajami has been described as a spellbinding chronicler, a teller of haunting tales that open up complex worlds and concepts.  Assembled in the year before he died, In This Arab Time shares Ajami's views on events in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and other parts of the Arab world with his usual unflinching candor.

He presents his rigorous assessment of complex challenges in the Middle East, beginning with the Syrian rebellion, explaining how an irresistible force clashed with an immovable object:  the regime versus people who conquered fear to challenge a despot of unspeakable cruelty.  Writing on Iraq, he suggests that many troubles in the Arab world can be linked to America's limited understanding of the region, thirst for oil, and need to deal with terrorism.

Ajami provides a chilling look at the life of 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah, asserting that "the very normalcy of his upbringing and the old hedonism giving way to a sudden need for absolution are much more unsettling than the warning signs and the zeal of a true believer."  He also offers a detailed historical perspective on the evolution of Egyptian leadership after Sadat and Egypt's fall from primacy in Arab politics.

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