ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2011, Egyptians were scheduled to enjoy a national holiday: Police Day. But rather than being fêted by a grateful populace, Egypt's police spent January 25 facing the greatest challenge to their authority in living memory. In accordance with a pre-arranged strategy, citizens began protesting at scattered sites across the city and attempted to converge at Tahrir Square in the heart of downtown Cairo. A sufficient number reached Tahrir that the police were thrown into a defensive posture from which they would never recover. Egypt's so-called January 25 Revolution had begun, and its first stage would end less than three weeks later with the stunning resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. As a long-time resident of Egypt (I've taught philosophy at the American University in Cairo since 2000), I was astonished by these events. But I witnessed them primarily from abroad, having left for India via Bahrain on January 12, on a badly needed winter vacation. For this reason I, like most Americans, followed the events of this Internet-triggered revolution largely on the Internet itself.
Seldom do books have titles as informative as Tweets from Tahrir, a new edited collection by Alex Nunns and Nadia Idle. The book is exactly what the title suggests: a collection of real-time Twitter reports from the Egyptian Revolution. At just over two hundred pages the book offers a brisk read of unedited tweets, with all misspellings, abbreviations, and curse words left unchanged. For reasons explained in the editors' preface, the volume focuses on a small number of ...read more