During a recent library visit I was pleased to discover that Greenhaven Press recently published as part of it Opposing Viewpoints Series an anthology devoted to the Arab Spring. Optimistic as ever, I eagerly grabbed The Arab Spring: Opposing Viewpoints and headed to the automated check-out machine. After first letting the book sit unread on my desk for a few days I picked it up and then proceeded to burn through it in virtually no time. But even though I quickly and almost effortlessly made my way through the collection of assorted opinion pieces and the like, I wasn’t completely blown away by the this recent offering from Greenhaven Press. I wasn’t horribly disappointed, but I wasn’t impressed either.
Just like Greenhaven has done with all the books in its Opposing Viewpoints and Current Controversies series, The Arab Spring: Opposing Viewpoints is divided into four chapters, with each chapter devoted to a different debate topic. In this case the chapters are:
- What Caused the Arab Spring?
- How Should the International Community Respond to the Arab Spring?
- How Should the United States Respond to the Arab Spring?
- What Are the Social and Political Effects of the Arab Spring?
Of course, just like with other books in these series, the selected pieces come from a variety of sources. For this particular anthology editors Margaret Haerens and Lynn M. Zott have selected material from traditional print publications like the Economist, the Financial Times and USA Today as well as “new media” outlets like CNN.com and Al Jazeera. Selections from more partisan sources like National Review are included in addition to pieces from policy institutes and political think tanks. Included also are an opinion piece from former Irish President Mary Robinson and a speech from current US President Barack Obama.
Ironically, while individually none of the selected pieces stand out, collectively they help form a somewhat decent and readable assessment of last year’s Arab Spring. Collectively, they also make one question ones assumptions concerning why the Arab Spring happened and where it could all end up. Considering that one of my old professors used to say there’s no assurance in politics, any insight this book can provide when it comes to the recent developments in the Middle East can only be helpful.