The Invisible Arab

The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions


By Marwan Bishara

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The Invisible Arab traces the roots of the revolutions in the Arab world. Marwan Bishara, chief policy analyst of Al Jazeera English and the anchor of the program “Empire”, combines on-the-ground reporting, extensive research and scholarship, and political commentary in this book on the complex influences that made the revolutions possible. Bishara argues that the inclusive, pluralistic nationalism that motivated the revolutions are indispensable to their long-term success.
The Invisible Arab is a voyage in time from the Arab world’s ‘liberation generation’ through the ‘defeated’ and ‘lost generations’, arriving at today’s ‘miracle generation’. Bishara unpacks how this new generation, long seen as a demographic bomb, has proved to be the agent of progress, unity and freedom. It has in turn used social networks to mobilize for social justice.

Bishara discusses how Israel, oil, terrorism and radical Islam have affected the interior identity of the region as well as Western projections upon it. Protection of Israel, Western imperial ambition, a thirst for oil, and fear of radicalism have caused many Western regimes and media to characterize Arab countries and people as unreceptive to democracy or progress. These ideas are as one-dimensional as they are foolhardy. Bishara argues that the Arab revolutions present a great window of opportunity for reinventing and improving Arab ties with the rest of the world — notably the West — on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest.

The revolutions will be judged by how they realize freedom and justice, and how they can pave the way for reconciling and accommodating nationalism and Islam with democracy. Bishara argues that these pillars — liberty and justice reconciled with religion and nationalism, form the bedrock that will allow stability and progress to flourish in the Arab world and beyond.

  • “There have been few events as consequential in recent history as the Arab Spring, and if one wants to understand its genesis, one should read this book. Engaging in a regionwide analysis with a concentration on Egypt and Tunisia, Bishara brings out little-known aspects of the tremors that have been felt around the world…. Bishara presents a clear-eyed assessment of the dictatorships that have blighted the Arab landscape.” Foreign Policy in Focus “Bishara tears down the Western media’s narrative of the Arab revolutions….[The Invisible Arab] helps make all that was invisible to the Western eye about the Arab Spring visible.” London School of Economics Review of BooksThe Invisible Arab is a small book that pulls a lot of punches….Bishara’s analysis is thoughtful and detailed.” Foreign Affairs“[I]nformed and engaging…” Thinking Fits (blog)“Marwan Bishara’s The Invisible Arab… sings like a canary…. The Invisible Arab is at its most resonant when reconstructing the building blocs of Arab misery that pinned down much of the 20th century.” 
  • Huffington Post
    “An engaging new book…[Bishara] delivers a sweeping, provocative and at times entertaining tale, revolution jokes and all….The Invisible Arab is an insightful and absorbing read for inquiring minds, and a valuable tool for students of the Middle East. As globally resonant events continue to unfold in the region, a sequel is clearly in order.”

    Newsweek / Daily Beast
    “Avoiding the pitfall of seeing the revolution in isolation, Bishara elegantly charts how the potent forces of national-ism, Islamism, and Western intervention all mixed to create last year’s revolutions.”

    ID: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs“[The Invisible Arab] is a must-read for students and scholars of the Middle East and the Arab world….The book does an excellent job of documenting the efforts at change, and suggesting how change might ultimately occur.” Wisconsin State Journal

On Sale
Jan 8, 2013
Page Count
304 pages
Bold Type Books

Marwan Bishara

About the Author

Marwan Bishara is Al Jazeera English’s senior political analyst and the editor & host of Empire, a program on the channel that examines global powers and their agendas. He was previously a professor of International Relations at the American University of Paris and a fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes et Sciences Sociales. Bishara’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, the Guardian, Le Monde and the Nation, among other outlets. He is also the chairman of The Galilee Foundation, a UK based charity that provides over one hundred students annually with university scholarships. He lives in Washington DC, Paris, and Dohar.

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