Elizabeth F. Thompson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia.
A major work by an eminent scholar of the Middle East, Justice
Interrupted provides a panoramic view of the region's struggle
for justice and constitutional government over the past century and
a half. Thompson offers powerful evidence that the
pro-democratic aspirations of the Arab Spring have long roots. --
Charles Kurzman, author of The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So
Few Muslim Terrorists
Once again, Elizabeth Thompson delivers a first-rate book: original in approach, rich in content, yet readable in style. Rejecting superficial cultural stereotypes, Thompson articulates the importance of the common citizen and the social activist struggling for a more just society during a time of wrenching change. She is inspiring and brilliant, and I will recommend her new book enthusiastically. -- Leila Tarazi Fawaz, author of An Occasion for War: Mount Lebanon and Damascus in 1860
Thompson boldly tackles some of the thorniest issues in the making of the modern Middle East--constitutionalism, freedom, democracy, visions of justice from across the political spectrum--and lucidly demonstrates how they have been experienced and contested by a broad range of social actors. An urgent and accessible history of 'ideas in action,' Justice Interrupted is essential reading for anyone interested in the past, present, and possible futures of the entire region. -- Max Weiss, author of In the Shadow of Sectarianism: Law, Shi'ism, and the Making of Modern Lebanon
Thompson sees the thirst for justice and reform blossoming as long as 400 years ago, when the region was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire. In the generations since, bureaucrats, intellectuals, workers, and peasants have seized on the language of empire, law, and even Islam to agitate for rights and due process...Most intriguing, she finds elements of this constitutional liberalism even within fundamentalist Islamist movements that democratizers most worry about. These threads suggest a possible way forward, a way to build a constitutional, democratic consensus on indigenous if often overlooked traditions. Islamists and secular Arabs, it turns out, have found common ground in the past, even written constitutions together. The same could happen again now...It's easy to assume that religiously driven movements are all antidemocratic--and indeed, some have proven so in practice, like the ayatollahs in Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But Thompson offers a more nuanced view, showing that many of these religious movements have internalized central elements of liberal discourse.
-- Thanassis Cambanis * Boston Globe *
[This] study on the rise of constitutionalism in the Middle East swiftly dispenses with the facile explanations of the Arab uprisings, instead offering readers a comprehensive yet nuanced look at the lasting impact of efforts to enshrine and institutionalize the language of justice across the region during the last two centuries.
-- Abdullah Al-Arian * H-Diplo *
Thompson's portraits are lively, accurate and informative--a highly readable primer for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Middle Eastern political history. -- Lawrence Rosen * Literary Review *