The authors examine the emergence of nationalism among the Egyptian middle class during the 1930s and 1940s, and its growing awareness of an Arab and Muslim identity. Previously Egypt did not define itself in these terms, but adopted a territorial and isolationist outlook. It is the revolutionary transformation in Egyptian self-understanding which took place during this period that provides the focus of this study. The authors demonstrate how the growth of an urban middle class, combined with economic and political failures in the 1930s, eroded the foundations of the earlier order. Alongside domestic events, the momentum of Arabism abroad and the impact of events in Palestine, necessitated Egyptian regional involvement. Egypt's present position as a major player in Arab, Muslim and Third World affairs has its roots in the fundamental transition of Egyptian national identity at this time.
"...a sophisticated, massively researched, and remarkable original study of Egypt in the 1930's and early 1940's from which all students of modern history can benefit." American Historical Review "...this is a very well written book, theoretically well-informed, with a distinguished conceptual clarity supported by empirical evidence." Digest of Middle East Studies "Gershoni and Jankowski find gold in the periodicals and books of the time; through extensive reading, they succeed in providing, as they call it, "an essay in Egyptian self-understanding." Middle-East Quarterly "...a useful work for anyone interested in the military history of the Middle East." The NYMAS Newsletter "...this is a well-organized and coherently argued study." Briton C. Busch, Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism