In 2011, Egypt witnessed more protests than any other country in the world. Counter to the received narrative, Amy Austin Holmes argues that the ousting of Mubarak in 2011 did not represent the culmination of a revolution or the beginning of a transition period, but rather the beginning of a revolutionary process that would unfold in three waves, followed by two waves of counterrevolution. This book offers the first analysis of both the revolution and counterrevolution in Egypt from January 2011 until June 2018.

The period of revolutionary upheaval played out in three uprisings against three distinct forms of authoritarian rule: the Mubarak regime and the police state that protected it, the unelected military junta known as the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, and the religious authoritarianism of the Muslim Brotherhood. The counterrevolution occurred over two periods: the first under Adly Mansour as interim president and the second after El Sisi was elected president. While the regime imprisoned or killed the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood and many secular activists during the first wave of the counterrevolution, it turned against civil society at large during the second: NGOs, charities, media, academia, and minority groups.

In addition to providing new and unprecedented empirical data, Coups and Revolutions makes two theoretical contributions. First, it presents a new framework for analyzing the state apparatus in Egypt based on four pillars of regime support that can either prop up or press upon whoever is in power. These are the Egyptian military, the business elite, the United States, and the multi-headed opposition. Secondly, the book brings together the literature on bottom-up revolutionary movements and top-down military coups, and it introduces the concept of a coup from below in contrast to the revolution from above that took place under Gamal Abdel Nasser.


"In Coups and Revolutions, Holmes turns a fresh lens on the Egyptian uprisings. Framing recent waves of social mobilization in Egypt as a historical process, she offers a detailed account of the multiple, distinct moments of protest the country has witnessed between 2011 and 2018. Along the way, we learn much about the micro-dynamics of the revolutionary process and the ways in which coups, revolutions, and counter-coups can evolve symbiotically."-- Melani Cammett, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Harvard University

"Amy Austin Holmes' take on Egypt's 2013 coup and subsequent repression is original as well as compelling, even for readers who have followed events in the country closely. Her ethnographic research on social movements including Tamarod and careful analysis of why the military crushed not only the Muslim Brotherhood but all forms of popular mobilization add much to the literature on coups and counter revolutions in general, as well as on contemporary Egypt" -- Michele Dunne, Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"Amy Austin Holmes has written an empirically rich book on the Egyptian revolutionary uprising of 2011 and its aftermath. Her book is grounded in interviews with activists, her own participation in many of the events she describes, and contemporary video and journalist accounts. Holmes offers a novel and provocative idea for comprehending the ouster of Mohamed Morsi: a coup from below. This will undoubtedly spark debate among scholars of social movements, revolutionary change, and contemporary Egyptian politics." -- Ellis Goldberg, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington

"Coups and Revolutions masterfully analyzes the waves of revolution and counterrevolution in Egypt between 2011 and 2018. Holmes' analysis rests upon both a close familiarity with events in Egypt and a nuanced deployment of social-scientific theories of coups and revolutions. Her novel concept of 'coup from below' will surely generate much discussion and debate. Read this book to understand why and how a promising revolution was ruthlessly crushed" -- Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology, New York University


About the Author
Image of Amy Austin Holmes
Amy Austin Holmes

Amy Austin Holmes worked on this book as a Fellow with the Wilson Center's Middle East Program from 2018 to 2019. Austin Holmes is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, South Atlantic Quarterly, Journal of Arabian Studies, Social Movement Studies, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, to name a few. Read More