A Rage for Order tells the story of the 2011 Arab Spring and its slide into autocracy and civil war better than I ever could have imagined its being told. The volume is remarkably slender for one of such drama and scope — beautifully written, Worth’s words scudding easily and gracefully across the pages. It is also a marvel of storytelling, with the chapters conjuring a poignancy fitting for the subject ... Though set amid chaos, Worth’s stories interweave effortlessly, each providing a counterpoint to the others — but softly and gently, without beating the reader over the head. This subtlety is critical in allowing him to capture the complexities of the region ... All great works of fiction are works of great philosophy, pondering the fundamentals of humanity. Few volumes of nonfiction ever achieve this, but Worth’s does, touching essential truths about the human condition.
One of the many strengths of Mr. Worth’s book is his gift for finding and telling the small story that illuminates the big picture ... Anyone who claims to know what to do about it all, or where it’s going next, has no more idea than the rest of us. Mr. Worth has the good judgment to focus on some first-class stories pursued over the course of his extraordinary travels. It is our additional good fortune that he writes about it so well.
Five years on, Tahrir has the quality of a dream. Read Worth’s remarkable new book, A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, From Tahrir Square to ISIS, and weep. The chasm between the civic spirit of the square and the brutal theocracy of the Islamic State reveals the extent of the failure. The book is a beautifully written chronicle, told through the struggles of ordinary people, of shattered hopes, lives, families and societies. Worth excavates the personal wounds revelatory of larger betrayals ... Worth does not judge. He reveals.
In his new book, A Rage for Order, he shares many of the stories that he collected while covering the Arab uprisings and their fallout as a reporter for the New York Times ...Mr Worth narrows the field of view, using personal narratives to illuminate the larger dynamics ...weaves together his stories with subtlety ... Other stories relate the aspirations of Arab revolutionaries, who 'had dreamed of building new countries that would confer genuine citizenship and something more: karama, dignity, the rallying cry of all the uprisings'... But when most of their efforts failed, some looked elsewhere for karama.
Could Mutawakel have been such a figure? It’s a question that lingers on the edges of A Rage for Order, Worth’s first book, which is dedicated to him. Worth doesn’t dwell on Mutawakel’s story at length ... But the loss of a man who was brave and wise, a thinker and a doer, filters onto every page ... What is striking about A Rage for Order is, well, two things. The first is that Worth isn’t so much writing a recent political history of an incredibly tumultuous time as he is telling the intimate stories of a dozen or so mostly ordinary people who were picked up, dragged along, and battered by events... The second is the range of Worth’s characters... And so it goes, one story after another of hope and disillusion. What saves Worth’s effort from despair, and justifies the book’s dedication to Mutawakel, is the last chapter, a feat of in-depth reporting that offers a cinematic account of the delicate, dance-like negotiations.
In his debut book, Worth, former chief of the New York Times Beirut bureau, draws on his intimate knowledge of the Middle East to offer a penetrating, unsettling analysis...Informing the vivid narrative are many revealing interviews as well as the author’s own eyewitness accounts of events. A crucial portrait of a deeply troubled region.