My new book, Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, officially comes out today. I have a new website, AndrewCMcCarthy.com, and it will be largely devoted to book themes and related news for the time being.
Spring Fever is an E-book for a couple of reasons. First, the readership for books in a digital rather than a traditional paper format has grown vast due to the speed of delivery, the convenience of storing and carrying lots and lots of books on a small device (iPad, Kindle, etc.), and the many advantageous features the digital format provides (searching, note-making, instant links to source materials, etc.). I love good old books, though. Although I made the switch a couple of years ago, I sympathize with those who have resisted. That brings us to reason number two: the relevance of books to current events.
When my friend and publisher (at Encounter Books) Roger Kimball and I first talked about a book about the so-called Arab Spring, I did not leap at the idea. My previous book, The Grand Jihad, was about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, its well thought out method of revolution, and the abetting of it by the Left, the current administration in particular. If you read The Grand Jihad — the title is taken from the Brotherhood’s own words in an internal memo in which they explain their mission as a “grand jihad” to “destroy Western from within” — you have not been the least bit surprised by the last two years of upheaval in the Middle East, including the anti-American rioting of the past week. Thus, I could certainly see the sense in following The Grand Jihad up with a book underscoring that the phenomenon we are witnessing is not a spontaneous outbreak of democracy in a region yearning for freedom but an inevitable transition to strict Islamization in a civilization yearning for sharia and hostile to Western culture.
Still, I was reluctant because of the usual book production process: you spend months writing a manuscript, then the book is finally produced and published long after you’re done — maybe six months… maybe eight months. My two books have held up well — to the extent they’ve been predictive, they’ve been on the money. And, not to toot my own flute too much, I think I’ve had the “Democracy Project” and its “Arab Spring” iteration right for a long time. There’s something scary, though, about the prospect of writing a book about a dramatically moving target. To say events are moving rapidly in the Middle East these days is to make a gross understatement. I was worried that by the time a book about the “Arab Spring” could be published, it would be stale, with my manuscript inevitably overrun by intervening months of new events.
I was ultimately convinced that the book was a good idea (Roger always has good ideas) because there were three ways to solve the moving-target challenge. First, with an E-book, freed of the need to crank out bound paper books and get them into the distribution chain, the production time is drastically shortened: I finished the book in July, and added a preface in mid-August to discuss important new developments (mainly, Mohamed Morsi’s shrewd dismantling of the Egyptian military and rapid grab for dictatorial power). Presto, the book is out in mid-September. Second, the website is a good way to react to breaking news, keep up to date, and explain how new developments tie in to themes developed in the book.
Third and foremost, I did not try to write a history of the “Arab Spring.” Spring Fever is, instead, an attempt to give the reader an alternative way to understand what is happening in the Middle East, an antidote to the delirious “Arab Spring” narrative. Mine is based on understanding that Islam, a culture and civilization distinct from and hostile to the West, is the most significant fact about the region; that far from being a fringe ideology, Islamic supremacism is the dominant interpretation of Islam of the Middle East; and that the most salient precedent for the current revolt, Turkey, is a model for Islamization not democratization.
Hopefully, the formula works and readers find the book relevant. In any event, there have already been some generous reviews, and a number of readers who learned about the project over the last several months have been very encouraging. I’m very grateful. I will try not to wear you out with too much book commentary. Please check out the website. Besides information about the book, it also features Eliana Johnson’s terrific video on the subject.