Book review: Revolution 2.0

Aug 17, 2012, 10:54 IST | Lindsay Pereira

The adjunct to this little memoir reads 'The power of the people is greater than the people in power.' It explains, more succinctly than hours of video footage, how the phenomenon we refer to as the Egyptian Spring came to be.

At the eye of that storm sat Wael Ghonim, a young computer engineer and Google employee explaining how he was compelled, for lack of a better analogy, to turn into the Angry Young Man of a social media-empowered generation. 

Ghonim’s story takes into account almost three decades of corruption, oppression and misrule. It shows why a mild-mannered young man was forced to complain against the Hosni Mubarak regime the only way he knew how — with a Facebook page exhorting his countrymen to protest.

Egypt has had a long history of cloak-and-dagger politics, subjugation of dissidents and headstrong leaders (read Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower for a shocking history lesson). What makes Wael’s tale unique is the presence of a social network playing the role of instigator.

His writing is lucid and controlled, dwelling upon everything from how his decision to protest affected his relationship with his wife to what he had to go through when security forces held him in custody for 11 days. He also explains how the Internet grew to become such a threat that the government was compelled to shut it down across Egypt. Team Anna ought to be able to take a few notes from this account. The government of India probably should too.

Revolution 2.0, Wael Ghonim, Harper Collins, Rs 599

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