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 tightly-packed tour of modern Tunisian history, focusing on the pre-colonial and French colonial eras, the nationalist struggle for independence , and the challenges of independence. In the process, he focuses on several themes that underscore Tunisian public life: the search for political leadership; a quest to reach a consensus on the role of religion in society; the management of the economy; and efforts to cultivate the country's cultural heritage.
At some points, a more detailed analysis is called for.
A History of Modern Tunisia
For example, the social importance of Habib Bourguiba's control of the nationalist movement, which catapulted figures from the periphery to the pinnacle of Tunisian politics, could be discussed further. And while the book's new chapter on the Tunisian revolution offers much needed detail, some aspects, such as the role of the country's trade unions in these events, could be amplified.
These questions may be explored in more detail in future studies, which will undoubtedly rely on Perkins' broad overview.
Middle East Quarterly. A History of Modern Tunisia, 2nd ed.
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After providing an overview of the country in the years preceding the inauguration of a French protectorate in , the book examines the impact of colonialism on the country, with particular attention to the evolution of a nationalist movement that secured the termination of the protectorate in Its analysis of the first three decades of independence, during which the leaders of the anticolonial struggle consolidated political power, formulated a series of economic strategies, and promoted a social and cultural agenda calculated to modernize both state and society, assesses the challenges that they faced and the degree of success they achieved.
The final chapter brings the book up to the present, examining the revolution and Tunisia's part in the Arab Spring.
No other English-language study of Tunisia offers as sweeping a time frame or as comprehensive a history of this nation. Table of Contents 1.
The march to Bardo, ; 2. Whose Tunisia?
A History of Modern Tunisia by Kenneth Perkins
Squaring off, ; 4. Redefining the relationship, ; 5.
The independent state sets its course, ; 6.