A Year in Reading: Basma Abdel Aziz


In The Egyptians: A Radical Story, Jack Shenker makes an effort to understand the complicated Egyptian political, social, and economic situation. It’s an in-depth exploration of the genesis of the 2011 uprising, and its aftermath. Shenker’s analysis is rooted in the history that preceded the revolution, following the policies of successive regimes, their repercussions, and the disappointments reverberating throughout the country today.

I read the entire 575 pages of The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture after a trip to the United States in June 2016. This official report of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of CIA interrogation and detention programs in the wake of the 9/11 is heartbreaking in its revelations. The most striking and painful conclusion, that “the CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees,” is ignored at our peril.

 And for the pure enjoyment of it, I reread Fernando Comte’s wonderful dictionary of mythology. For me, much of the pleasure comes from trying to decide which gods — Narcissus, Prometheus, Brahma — resemble which contemporary politicians.

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