Book Review: Falling Off the Edge: Globalization, World Peace and Other Lies. Alex Perry by Alex Perry

Falling Off the Edge: Globalization, World Peace and Other Lies. Alex PerryFalling Off the Edge: Globalization, World Peace and Other Lies. Alex Perry by Alex Perry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there was a book which really made me sit up and think about the world we are living in then Falling Off the Edge: Globalization, World Peace and Other Lies by Alex Perry probably is up there.

Perry paints a grim yet honest picture of globalisation mainly from a developing world perspective ranging from the dissenting workers in China’s new cities to the Maoists of Nepal and Naxalites of India hoping change will come through the barrel of a gun not just in Kathmandu and Delhi but also in New York and London. Perry highlights globalisation is not trickling down to the poor of the world and there is no real hope for success or a distribution of wealth if we continue this trend. Perry paints a real human story as he speaks to villagers in Sri Lanka, factory workers in China, tribal workers from Kenya to MEND fighters in the Niger delta who are not the beneficiaries of globalisation.

He gave extra emphasis to China and India, two countries which are in line to be the next big two in terms of economic and social success. However Perry articulates the pitfalls of their success as there are more victims rather than winners. He shows an elite who have gained so much from the free market, yet at the same time India has 40 million more destitute workers in 2006 than it had in 1993, while the city of Shenzhen has factories where staff just earn $56 a month.

Perry allowed the subjects he was writing on the chance to present their version of events, his encounters with Somali pirates and Indian I.T. workers. Perry doesn’t condone violence as he meets fighters who some may refer as “liberators” while others may say they are “terrorists,” Perry shows their stories as an economic struggle which is hidden under the guise of politics or religion. He shows how these people have witnessed an erosion of their natural resources which are pillaged or sold to fund the economic success which in turn fuels their anger and make them take back by force. For every economic winner of globalisation project, there are more losers who are born into poverty and a rut which they cannot get out of. Perry constantly shows that there is a huge proportion of the planet is falling off the edge as globalisation has not trickled down the realms of success.

For myself the book has cemented the perspective that the system we are living in is in crisis. Perry’s book was written five years ago but now as we see in the West are now falling short of the Globalisation dream. British voters decided to support BREXIT, many many say it was due to fear and blaming the EU, yet there were many working class have been left at the wayside due to forty years of de-regulation and inequality. We are also seeing in the USA the Trump factor which could even win the Presidency, again we see a revolution of regression as many working class communities are falling foul of the globalisation project.

I thoroughly enjoyed his honesty and fair portrayal of Indian industrialist, Ratan Tata who understands the importance of giving back and providing the common good. Tata, who lives a frugal life, comes across as a kind of billionaire with a conscience who has set up foundations honouring how own workers, he told Perry “how much profitable if you target the very bottom of the income pyramid – a lot of people with a little rather than a few with a lot?” His aim was through his investment and somewhat filling the void of the State he wants to make the poor into consumers.

The epilogue, written in 2010 shows that that the financial crash of 2008 has added fuel to the fire of resentment against globalisation. We are living in a prosperous times and myself who works in Qatar can see the wealth with the few while so many who are building and sustaining a city sadly may make enough to send money home for their families, but it comes at a price.

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I’m not racist but………………

Today James O’Brien quite rightly highlights the double standards of the Sun newspaper during and after the Brexit campaign and how they fanned the flames of xenophobia and racist attacks.

This is the newspaper which published “Muslims are not like you and I.” Similarly the Sun once went after the BBC by implying “the BBC isn’t friendly to white faces, because they have internships for minorities,” while the newspaper which blindly ignored the growing increase of attacks on minorities, yet today it had the audacity as O’Brien pointed out to condemn the growing xenophobia a day after a story which gloated that Britain got its country back.

Last Friday morning 52% of the electorate voted to take Britain out of the EU, from the 17 odd million who voted leave a small minority it seems took the words “we now got our country back” as literal. This has resulted in attacks on members of the Polish community, Muslims have been verbally and in some cases physically assaulted.

Examples of the attacks included the posting of laminated cards reading “Leave the EU – no more Polish vermin” to members of the Polish community in Huntingdon on Saturday. There were also reports of racist graffiti scrawled on a Polish community centre in Hammersmith, west London. The Muslim Council of Britain said it had compiled a dossier of over 100 hate crimes over the weekend alone since the vote. I myself know of three attacks where Muslim women were racially abused while walking in the streets of the UK, and today police are treating a firebomb incident inside a Halal butchers shop in my home town as a possible hate crime. In Birmingham, members of the far-right English Defence League gathered outside a mosque in Birmingham waving a flag that read: “Rapefugees Not Welcome”, as they shouted “f*****g p**dos” and “Allah, Allah, who the f*** is Allah?”. Police later made two arrests.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said it had detected a 57 per cent rise in reports to a police online hate crime reporting site between Thursday and Sunday compared to the corresponding days four weeks ago.

On Twitter there have been calls by bigots to send immigrants home:

Now, call me a cynic, but I do believe that certain elements of the media has allowed this so-called concern to grow into an inferno of fire known as racism. Yes, we expect the right-wing elements and their surrogate far-right friends to spew their filth, after all I don’t expect a condemnation or an apology from Nigel Farage, but the likes of the Sun should not patronise us with their hypocrisy at the same time.

I myself have experienced racism in the UK. Whether it was being called a p*** and being chased by BNP members in the streets of Perry Barr to facing some covert forms of racism in various work places. I do feel it is acceptable to be a racist, a xenophobe and an Islamophobe because it is now the norm. People can have these views as it is readily acceptable on social media and mentioned quite freely and unashamed.  Why? well because our politicians and media has allowed this form  of rhetoric to take place. During the Brexit debate the peddled lies of 80 Million Turks turning up at the UK borders, fear tactics that these hordes of brown Muslim refugees from Syria will destroy our very existence and put British women at risk of being raped were thrown around. So why then should we blame the pensioner who appeared on Channel 4 News a day after the vote in Barnsley saying he had voted to keep the Muslims out.

So what is the solution? Well, firstly the political class need to move their backsides from Westminster and engage with the British public but also condemn what is taking place and ensure bigotry and racism has no place in society. Words are not what is needed but action. Not all the 17 million people who voted Brexit are racists, but sadly many had made their minds up based on the propaganda but also because over the past forty years successive governments have let them down. The UK is not the leafy suburb of Hamstead but it is the grit of Hull and the liberals amongst us need to understand the United Kingdom is not a hub of multicultural free spirit. If their concerns are not met or engaged with the  Labour strongholds across the north and Wales which voted to leave will end up in the hands of Farage and his gang for a generation. The white working class have grievances and are the likliest to suffer in a post Brexit Britain. Unless the Labour party holds honest and pragmatic discussions on immigration and provide the white working class an identity of respect and understanding, it is an electorate that will be lost to a far-right politics of fear.

Similarly there needs to be positive action and engagement outside the echo chambers of social media, interfaith groups and liberal intelligensia forums. We need to understand that change will not come about by groups of  like-minded people holding like minded conversations with like minded viewpoints to find like minded solutions. The concept of debate and winning the battle of ideas is not with your friend who agrees with you but with the neighbour who may disagree with you after all isn’t that what is politics about? Those who believe in a free and fair society of tolerance and respect also need to get out a bit more and engage with people who may not agree with their views.

One genuinely feels that those who influence the filth of hate should be challenged and exposed. More effort is needed to hold these people to account, while organisations like tell MAMA should be supported.

Yahya Birt, the British academic wrote in his piece After Brexit, where do British Muslims go from here?  wrote:”46% of British Muslims live in the bottom 10% most deprived wards in England and so are squarely among the have-nots too,” the battle for the soul of the United Kingdom should not be about race but of opportunity, hence, why politicians need to take the lead to stand up for the betterment of all. Birt went on to write:  “This requires a radical rethink because neither of the two main parties have done enough to prevent our society becoming more unequal despite Britain’s great wealth, thus creating neighbourhoods, towns and even cities of the forgotten and the left behind. And although it is clearly a delicate and controversial subject, the impact of migration on jobs, goods and services must be diagnosed and debated in a responsible way that does not play into race politics. For this change in tone and approach to have any chance of succeeding, BAME and faith communities must now play a prominent role in this debate too.”

If we don’t take this crisis and turn it into an opportunity, we are sure as hell going to get more people saying “‘I’m not racist but……..”

 

 

Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan by Ahmed Rashid

Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and AfghanistanPakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan by Ahmed Rashid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to know what had gone on in the Af-Pak region during the US mission to kill Osama Bin Laden, the role of the Pakistani military and ISI over the Taliban and Afghanistan, and the breakdown of relations between the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration, then this book is worth a read.

Ahmed Rashid uses his variety of contacts and his understanding of the region to indulge into the whole Afghan, Pakistani, US and various groups such as the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other Jihadi entities. The book is basically an array of extended essays looking at subjects such as the US -Pakistan relationship, Afghan-US relationship, the role of the Pakistani military within Pakistan and Afghanistan, the challenges of Afghanistan and also what the future should be.

I personally found is easy to understand through Rashid’s narrative and came to the conclusion that no one side has any idea of what to do to end the stalemate in the region and that the Pakistani military can help change everything but due to insecurity, paranoia and fear refuse to do so.

One criticism of the book is that, reading it in 2016, it seems somewhat dated, however I knew that, as I intended to understand the region and Rashid’s writings achieved that for me.

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Sharapova PR machine on the front foot

From a PR perspective the not so fallen tennis ace Maria Sharapova has come out on the front foot after being notified through a letter that she had taken a banned substance. As history has shown us that sporting icons and illegal drug use tends to cast doubts over successful careers, damage to reputations and a lifetime of denials.

However in this case Sharapova used the opportunity to control the narrative and set the tone to a story which could have had severe consequences to a glittering career. She played a straight bat and informed the world that she was tested positive for meldonium, a substance she has been taking since 2006 for health issues. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the five-time Grand Slam champion would be provisionally suspended from 12 March.

With previous sporting drug scandals, you tend to find programmes, discussions and debate to why this took place in the first place. But the darling of tennis used this opportunity to humanise her story by stating she ‘was open and honest about a lot if things,” while she stressed she let people down and would face consequences. Sharapova also put the ball into the court of the tennis authorities in relation to the length of the ban by admitting she made a mistake Her PR operation in controlling the message which to a great degree was damaging had in fact taken the sting out of the tail.

The press conference and admission of guilt over a subject which automatically can bring condemnation and isolation from peers and the public, one only needs to study the fallout when Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones were found to have taken illegal substances.

Sharapova humanised the possible scandal by admitting what she had done herself. In PR and crisis communications that usually is far more effective than hiding behind a bland statement or using a spokesperson for that matter, as it can come across there is more to hide, and hence the media probing begins.  By not issuing a carefully written statement but speaking from the heart and then taking questions from the floor, Sharapova delivered an ace in wrestling control of the narrative rather than passively waiting for the news to leak.

To a certain degree PR strategies of an admission of guilt through the human perspective can vindicate the person, bring sympathy and above all control the narrative and messaging which is often lost if others leak the story which forces the person to react.

Her PR strategy worked as the reaction has been hugely sympathetic as rivals like Serena Williams responded by saying Sharapova had showed “a lot of courage” for accepting responsibility for her failed drugs test. While he former coach Nick Bollettieri said the Russian’s test was a “game-changer for life, not just for tennis”.

The 84-year-old American told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was shocked former world number one Sharapova tested positive because “she has always been above board in everything,”no doubt his comments also fitted the Sharapova narrative as well, as when others sympathise rather than condemn it makes a huge difference to brand perception. Also it does help  being the pin-up girl of tennis, no doubt that worked to her advantage.

Taking the PR offensive of admission now means she probably will expect a short ban. her peers, the world of tennis and her fans will not judge as a cheat but as an irresponsible athlete who should have read the label before taking the medication. she will now no doubt enter a period of reflection with some carefully managed interviews on the way which will pave way for a comeback tour which will bring her millions of more dollars  in endorsements and sponsorships. No doubt Nike who suspended her contract worth $70m (£49m) will no doubt re-unite  and recover the lost revenue when things become clear.

And finally expect a retirement announcement which will be on Sharapova’s terms and  will not be announced in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with a fairly ugly carpet.

Louis Van Gaal – My review

Louis van Gaal: The BiographyLouis van Gaal: The Biography by Maarten Meijer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading this book, Van Gaal’s United were in a midst of a crisis (still are). There were questions about his philosophy and processes were in doubt. Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United had spent a quarter of a million pounds and were out of the Champions League and four points from the top four. Media and ex-players along with some fans were calling for his head as his own student Jose Mourinho is waiting in the wings. The question was would Van Gaal go before I finish the book? A month on, I have learnt more about the man, and he is still in his job.

What was expected to be a fairy-tale ending between the world’s most arrogant and single-minded manager and the world’s most famous football club has not gone exactly to plan. Meijer doesn’t really write about LVG and Manchester United, as the biography is of the man and his successes and failures as a player, PE teacher, manager and individual. The book is of course unauthorised but Meijer provides enough information on LVG as a footballer from 1969 to 1987 , his insecurities at Ajax during the Cruyff era, his time in management at Ajax, Barcelona (twice), Holland, Technical Director of Ajax, AK Alkmaar, Bayern Munich, Holland and Manchester United.

He charters the public spats with fellow Dutchmen like Johaan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Leo Beenhaker and the Bayern hierachy. His fallout with players like Rivaldo, Lucio and Zlaatan show a man who is ruthless who believes that “no individual is allowed to do as he pleases,” and as he said: “I don’t need the eleven best. I need the best eleven”

The book shows his passion, commitment and focus and determination at all costs, yet despite Van Gaal’s successes on the pitch, the author highlights what has built Van Gaal’s character from his Catholic upbringing and the death of his father at a young age which contributed to his development as a leader who was not prepared to compromise on what he thought was right. Manchester United fans are more or less resigned to believe the Van Gaal era will end up messy and this book only cements that belief. His fallout at Ajax as Technical Director and as coach of Barcelona and Bayern demonstrates that when it falls apart it falls apart spectacularly. Van Gaal has a tendency to alienate key players, the board and large sections of the fanbase, which was the price the faithful paid for early success which ended up in failure due to his single minded arrogance and bad luck with players as was the case with Bayern.
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Nevertheless Van Gaal despite what is currently taking place at Manchester United is still at large a footballing legend who many have seen revolutionise the concept of football during his time at Ajax, laid the foundations for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and managed to gel a group of individuals into a team of World cup semi finalists who destroyed Spain, Australia and Chile in the group stages, beat Mexico due to their spotkick failures, and used his mind games of genius to eliminate Costa Rica in the quarter final. Also current football managers like Ronald Koeman, Danny Blind, Pep Guardiola, Philip Cocu, Frank De Boer and Jose Mourinho all had played or worked under him at some stage during their professional careers. In 2010 the World Cup Semi Finals had Holland, Spain and Germany who had players from Barcelona, Ajax, AK Alzamar and Bayern Munich, again teams Van Gaal managed and had developed some young players like Muller and Xavi who went on to play for their country.

Louis Van Gaal should not be judged on his time at Manchester United. The man isn’t out of his depth at the club, but it could be the challenge of Manchester United came possibly at the twilight of his career where players are different to the likes he managed twenty years ago at Ajax, as his dealings with some big players like Di Maria were not handled well. Despite what will happen at Old Trafford, Louis Van Gaal will have laid good youth foundations at the club and help rebuild the malaise that Ferguson left for Moyes who just could not overturn it.

A must read for football fans who like strong characters, and Louis Van Gaal is one of the heavyweight European characters of football.

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David, how times have changed.

david-cameron

Earlier today David Cameron set out  his government’s strategy to defeat the “poison of Islamist extremism,” as he coined in at the school in the great city of Birmingham. Our PM pledged to tackle the extremist ideology and “the failures of integration” which he said had led to hundreds of Britons joining those nutters who call themselves Daesh.

In his speech the PM stated  “It begins – it must begin – by understanding the threat we face and why we face it. What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine. And like any extreme doctrine, it is subversive. At its furthest end it seeks to destroy nation-states to invent its own barbaric realm. And it often backs violence to achieve this aim – mostly violence against fellow Muslims – who don’t subscribe to its sick worldview”.

Now David, as a PR man to another PR man, surely you know it is essential to understand the usage of words and values? For example the term ‘Islamist,’ is one word which can be slightly subjective.  After all in 2007 you did state: “Many Muslims I’ve talked to about these issues are deeply offended by the use of the word ‘Islamic’ or ‘Islamist’ to describe the terrorist threat we face today We do need greater understanding of the true nature of the terrorist threat. There’s too much complacency about it among non-Muslims, and too much denial of it in the Muslim community. But our efforts are not helped by lazy use of language. Indeed, by using the word ‘Islamist’ to describe the threat, we actually help do the terrorist ideologues’ work for them, confirming to many impressionable young Muslim men that to be a ‘good Muslim’, you have to support their evil campaign..”

So I guess today by using that term ‘Islamist,’ we have actually help to the terrorist idealogues’ work for them.” The term ‘Islamists’ is to broad and open ended. If I am not making sense then please watch this short explainer (yes it is attributed editorially, but I do feel it has wider reaches as well)

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Just a thought. Of course I could elaborate on other aspects of the speech and the fallout, failures and successes, but i’d rather let the experts fight it out.

Of course radicalisation is a problem and it must be dealt with accordingly, but ignoring economic issues, class, identity and the FP terminology is slightly far- fetched. But what do I know, I don’t work for Quilliam Foundation or engage in Prevent funded projects.

Finally, no doubt many experts will be writing, tweeting and commentating in relation to the speech. Personally I would recommend you read  An Open Letter to Britain’s Leading Violent Extremist: David Cameron.

How best to stop radicalisation? – Two views

Hasan Patel

Recently I came across two very different narratives on how to engage in radicalisation and extremism amongst British Muslims.

One on hand a start warning from experts, academics and grass rooted individuals who believe Government deradicalisation plan will brand Muslims with beards as terrorists, further elaborating  it as a direct assault on freedom of speech and a move towards a police state. In an unprecedented intervention, 280 academics, lawyers and public figures claim the controversial law will make Britain less safe as it will force radical political discussion underground.  Individuals like Karen Armstrong, Baroness Ruth Lister, emeritus professor of social policy at Loughborough University, Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer in counter-terrorism, who was wrongly arrested under anti-terror laws by Nottingham Police for downloading an al-Qaeda training manual from a US Government website he we was using to research his PHD. The letter states: “Prevent will have a chilling effect on open debate, free…

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How best to stop radicalisation? – Two views

Recently I came across two very different narratives on how to engage in radicalisation and extremism amongst British Muslims.

One on hand a stark warning from experts, academics and grass rooted individuals who believe Government deradicalisation plan will brand Muslims with beards as terrorists, further elaborating  it as a direct assault on freedom of speech and a move towards a police state. In an unprecedented intervention, 280 academics, lawyers and public figures claim the controversial law will make Britain less safe as it will force radical political discussion underground.  Individuals like Karen Armstrong, Baroness Ruth Lister, emeritus professor of social policy at Loughborough University, Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer in counter-terrorism, who was wrongly arrested under anti-terror laws by Nottingham Police for downloading an al-Qaeda training manual from a US Government website he we was using to research his PHD. The letter states: “Prevent will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. It will create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly, and will withdraw to unsupervised spaces. Therefore, Prevent will make us less safe.”

However a few days prior to this strongly worded letter another letter appeared in the Guardian titled:  “United, we can protect our young people from extremists” which urged people of all communities, religion, government and non-government to work together to stand united against extremism. With one voice – they launched a collective fightback against those who wish to do us harm, by launching a website called Fightback Starts Here. Looking at the list of people and organisations who support the fightback , they all have one thing in common, they have all been receiving directly, indirectly or through partnerships been in receipt of a Prevent funding since 2005. Organisations on the list who have been in receipt of the funding are the Leicester based Federation of Muslim Organisations, JIMAS, Inspire, Active Change Foundation and St Phillips Centre in Leicester.

In the wake of the 7/7 attacks in London, the Labour Government stepped up the programme spending tens of millions on hundreds of schemes across the country.
But many of these initiatives were regarded by people as little more than using various community organisations who were all dependent on government funding competing with each other to the bidding on behalf of the government. The funds were used on converting the converted and in some cases used as canon fodder to gather intelligence on their local communities.

So who would you rather take advice from? A group of people who are independent of any government direction and agenda who have consistently warned people about the agenda and direction of Prevent and the danger these policies will have in the long run, or take advice from people who have made careers and businesses from Prevent who have it it in their interests to make Prevent work?

I’ll let you decide.

Book Review: The Thunder That Roars

91ys5goXaZL._SL1500_“The Young journalist has an exceptional grasp of world affairs, which he attribute to his hyphenated identity. He says. ‘Well I sometimes wonder. Am I South African? Am I an Indian? Am I a Muslim? Rather, more wonderfully, am I all these things blended into one and created for a purpose? I have been obsessed with these issues, Middle Eastern politics, migration, social justice, for long as I remember. It could be all because I am a a baby of the new South Africa. We were born into a miracle and an ideal, at the same time as our country reinvented itself and soothed the painful scars of racial oppression.” You would think Imran Garda was writing about himself?  However, in this case they are the words of Yusuf Carrim, the protagonist in The Thunder That Roars, the debut novel by Garda.

A book I managed to read in two days, Garda brings his descriptive magic, wit, current affairs, identity, religion, travelling monologue and short bursts of African and Indian heritage and eccentricities into a seismic mix of intrigue and what happens next mode.

The characters in the book are full of flavour, from Barack the Somali refugee to Sukuzukuduma the Zimbabwean veteran patriach. Garda relates their stories intertwined into events and moments that any student of current affairs can relate to.

As someone who has worked in a newsroom there were instances in novel where I thought, damn, why couldn’t live the professional life of Carrim, at times his experiences were too good to be true (but of course not with the emotional baggage related to his new found heritage), but nevertheless, who wouldn’t want to be a famous international journalist jet setting the world and managing to deliver the odd Juma Khutbah?.

Garda, in my opinion strikes it gold by weaving the story of Carrim into the narratives of the Arab Spring, South African Indian Islam, racism, migrant workers and immigration coupled with a thorough description of life and surroundings of New York, Johannesburg, Bulawayo and Lampedusa. Similarly the characters of Yusuf, Jack, Fehmida and Naazim can be related to any man of Gujarati descent. I enjoyed studying these characters and their experiences, whether it was the realism of Yusuf, the panache and guilt of Jack, the unfulfilled yet material life of Fehmida and the ‘son I never had’ character of Naazim. I understood their complexities and mindsets as I for one felt I not only knew them but may have met their types in Sandton, Birmingham and Toronto.

If you are someone who has an understanding of identity politics, African society and a passion for international affairs coupled into a story of fiction where it is not related to a middle class European narrative then this book is the one for you. The Thunder That Roars is not only a debut novel for Imran Garda, but an inspiration for many current and former journalists that a career in literature writing can be achieved. I just can’t wait for his second book.

Book Review: 18 Days Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution

18_jazeera_feature-770x47218 days from 25 January to 11 February 2011 had not changed the Arab streets due to revolution but also changed the way the world judged and saw how Al Jazeera English was not just an ordinary news channel. The network channel known by some right wing commentators as “Terror TV” was part of the wider Al Jazeera Media Network where once in 2003 the Arabic channel was famously remarked by Hosni Mubarak as a “tiny matchbox,” had overnight become a trusted and reliable news source which controlled the news agenda for the best part of 2011.

18 Days: Al Jazeera English and the Egyptian Revolution studies the account of the channel during the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Authored by Scott Bridges who had worked at the channel on two occasions the book gives a blow by blow account of the relationship between the newsroom, the journalists reporting in Egypt and the lives of the people they were reporting on from the streets of Egypt as change was sweeping the Arab world’s most populous country.  Bridges uses his own experience from working for the cosmopolitian newsroom providing abehind the scene account portraying a deep analysis of how this news channel based in the desert city of Doha became the most sought news source both on TV and online. Bridges highlights the powress during that time of the channel’s  unlimited resources of newsgathering, risk taking journalism and sharp editorial judgement in leadership which transformed the media landscape. However Bridges also uses the opportunity to examine Al Jazeera English and its relationship with its Qatari benefactors, its role within the world and the challenges the channel now faces after its ‘CNN moment’ in 2011.

The book is a day to day journey of what really took place at the channel trying to report the facts as correspondents Sherine Tadros, Ayman Mohyedin and Rawya Rageh along with their colleagues were beaming the revolution into the homes of millions of people, to the behind the scene conversations in the gallery when presenters Adrian Finigan or Kamahl Santamaria were guiding the audience to the plethora of events.

As an individual who watched Al Jazeera during that period as an audience member rather than as a journalist the book offers a great narrative during the events ranging the last minute heated tensions off air or problems with the B-Gan’ which forced correspondent Jamal ElShayyal to look at alternatives to get his content beamed from Alexandra to Doha.

Salah Negm, the channel’s Director of News was quoted by Bridges as saying: “Once you have a big news story, you focus on it, you own it, concentrate on it; make yourself the point of interest,” during the 18 days of the revolution Al Jazeera did exactly that. As editorial staff by default were focusing on the Tunisian revolution, management decided to send correspondent Rawya Rageh to capture the mood in Cairo outside the Tunisian embassy where a dozen protesters had gathered. Even though Raweh along with many colleagues were not convinced anything may blow into a full blown revolution, her closing lines in the package was: ” Whike it’s not clear if these limited protests could gain enough traction to replicate what happened in Tunisia, the sentiment is clear; change is coming, Tunisia is the inspiration,” yet as Rageh told Bridges in her mind she was not convinced that anything remotely on the scale of what to come was about to happen. Rawya didn’t believe that change would come, but then like her colleagues her sentiments were that nobody had an inkling of what was to come.

Bridges goes into detail on how events on the 25th January changed the the editorial debates in Doha which prompted Mohammed Nanabhay the head of online at the time to take the call to place Egypt ahead of the Palestine Papers story, which was scheduled for the day of the protests, even though Al Jazeera had one eye of the 25th January protests it didn’t mean Al Jazeera were not prepared, Bridges shows with examples how during the day on the 25th the wheels started in motion to focus more on Egypt with staff, news gathering and resources.

Despite TV having the resources and were leading the content discourse, Nanabhay and his online team played a central role in the development of the story from the streets of Egypt with the use of social media and constant updates on the site together with the live streaming of the news. The importance of the online character was demonstrated when during the course of the 18 days there was a 2500% increase on website traffic which placed aljazeera.com above the New York Times as a news source.

Bridges uses anecdotal examples of failing equipment, rolling news and near death experiences draws the reader to not just understand the editorial nuances but the emotional and physical dealings journalists had to endure as history was being made.

Bridges offers a perspective on why Al Jazeera the new kid on the block shook the media landscape and brought into journalism the “Al Jazeera DNA,” something Al Anstey the Managing Director always refer to. Despite the constant scrutiny and challenges the channel is currently facing, 18 Days shows how the channel answers their critics not by rhetoric but by its content. Even though the channel has dispelled the myths of being a “Terror TV” station, the channel has new challenges, most notably to campaign for the release of its three arrested journalists in Egypt and the constant questions on editorial independence and bias. Yet the enormity of the channel’s reputation which it has itself cultivated had brought goodwill support from competitors, world governments and human rights group in their calls to free their colleagues, while the integrity and respect for good honest journalism through its news and programmes has won many plaudits from their peers and beyond. Bridges in the words of the blogger Grayson Hamilton highlights the network’s philosophy: “Deliver the facts, give them context, and serve the public,” something which has served the channel well for the past nine years and not just 18 days in the early days of 2011.