Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

A History of Modern Tunisia, 2nd Ed

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

A History of Modern Tunisia, 2nd Ed

Article excerpt

A History of Modern Tunisia, 2nd ed. By Kenneth Perkins. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 306 pp. $29.99, paper.

In the wake of the uprisings that swept across the Middle East in early 2011, Tunisia remains the only country that may be inching toward a relatively successful outcome. Few, however, are acquainted with Tunisian history or society. In this, his second edition of A History of Modern Tunisia, Perkins, a leading scholar who has spent his professional life studying that country, provides a comprehensive overview to fill that gap.

While Tunisia's previous position in the international arena was historically limited, as the first Arab country in the twenty-first century to overthrow its repressive dictatorship, it is frequently cited in Western capitals as a successful model for political transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Having subsequently held elections, struggled through post-revolutionary political turbulence and instability, and more recently managed to hammer out a new constitution, there may be some truth to that optimism.

Perkins takes his readers on a tightlypacked tour of modem Tunisian history, focusing on the pre-colonial and French colonial eras, the nationalist struggle for independence (1956), and the challenges of independence. …

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