_zoe__1 reviewed this|over 2 years ago
I wanted to know more about what was going on with the revolutions in the Arab world, and I'd been considering reading Feiler's Walking the Bible for ages, so when I saw that he had written a short book about the uprisings--one that happened to be available for a discount at a closing Borders--I decided to pick it up. The back covers says that it "looks at the historic youth uprisings sweeping the Middle East and what they mean for the future of peace, coexistence, and relations with the West", which was exactly what I wanted to find out about.And the book does contain some interesting anecdotes about the revolutions, with a particular focus on Egypt, but on the whole I feel like I didn't learn very much. I maybe shouldn't have had high expectations for such a short book anyway (it's only 142 pages), but the bigger problem is the approach that Feiler takes to the whole issue, an approach that isn't hinted at at all on the back cover. Basically, he believes that the Bible is the key to understanding the whole issue. There are a lot of comparisons to Moses and the Exodus. The following paragraph basically sums up Feiler's ideas:"At first glance, it might seem like a stretch to say that the Egyptian Revolution--and the entire swath of uprisings that rattled the Middle East and North Africa beginning in 2010--had their roots in religion. After all, most of the high-profile organizers were young, not overtly spiritual, and their language appeared to be more secular than faith-based. But look beneath the surface, and it's easy to draw a straight line between the passionate cries for freedom across the Middle East and the earliest calls for freedom in the Ancient Near East. In fact, you can't understand the current yearnings without understanding their earliest written expression, and that was in the scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths. Long before the Enlightenment, the Reformation, or even classical Rome and Greece, freedom had its earliest and most influential expression in the Hebrew Bible."Unfortunately, Feiler didn't remotely convince me of the validity of this view. He talked a lot about the Bible (and a bit about the Qur'an), and I can see that, yes, there were some similar issues at play then and now, but I saw no reason to think that the connections were causal. I didn't feel that his biblical discussions added anything to my understanding of the modern situation in the Middle East, which is what I was actually trying to find out about.And I should note that in general, I have absolutely nothing against biblical studies or discussions of the ancient world. I'm pursuing a PhD in ancient history; I spend a large percentage of my time thinking about the ancient Near East. Feiler just didn't manage to persuade me of its relevance for the issue at hand. I'll have to seek out another book in order to understand what's going on in the world today.To be fair, I should mention that Feiler doesn't entirely leave out a discussion of the modern issues. But in a book of this length, once the irrelevant parts are excluded, I don't think there was much more content than you'd find in a couple of magazine articles. I certainly didn't come away from it feeling that I had gained any great new insight into the matter.