Arab academics and activists call the uprisings that started in early 2011 across the Arab world “revolutions.” Even some U.S. commentators initially compared them with the 1848 revolutions in Europe. Yet the “Arab Revolution” is both similar and dissimilar to the French, Russian, and other great revolutions that molded the history of the Western world, as described by Crane Brinton in his classic, The Anatomy of Revolution. Though there are interesting parallels, the differences are even more impressive, even compared to Nasser's July 23 Revolution.

David Ottaway received a BA from Harvard in 1962 and a PhD from Columbia in 1972. He worked for the Washington Post for 35 years, first as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Africa, and Southern Europe, then as a national security and investigative reporter in Washington. His most recent book, The King’s Messenger: Prince Bandar bin Sultan and America’s Tangled Relationship with Saudi Arabia, was published in 2008. A senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Ottaway currently is working on a book on the changes underway in the Arab world.

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