AUTUMN OF FURY: The Assassination of Sadat by Mohamed Heikal

AUTUMN OF FURY: The Assassination of Sadat

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A caustic account of the career of Anwar Sadat, by Egypt's most eminent journalist (The Road to Ramadan, The Sphinx and the Commissar), which amounts to a justification of his assassination by Muslim fundamentalists in October 1981. Heikal, a confidant of both Nasser and Sadat, broke with the latter in the aftermath of the October 1973 war with Israel; arrested in a mass crackdown on dissenters in September 1981, he spent the last days of Sadat's regime a prisoner. Understandably if regrettably, his story can be read as character assassination: Sadat is depicted as a petty tyrant and puppet of American policy, a master of media politics ignorant of the true interests of his country. The argument's credibility is diminished by Heikal's scapegoating of Sadat for Egypt's costly Yemenite adventures under Nasser and indicting him for not exploiting the Arab ""victory"" in 1973, while ignoring the military and political forces arrayed against him. Heikal scorns Sadat's surest claim against history, his trip to Jerusalem and the ensuing peace between Egypt and Israel, for producing no tangible rewards for Egypt (the restoration of Egyptian sovereignty over the Sinai is relegated to a footnote) and for betraying the Arab cause as well as Egypt's historic role as leader of the Arab world. Still, one cannot dismiss as mere resentment Heikal's description of the new rich class of entrepreneurs created by Sadat's economic policies, and its pervasive corruption; nor can one write off his remarks on Sadat's growing political isolation and its outcome--popular unrest, communal violence, political repression, and the growth of underground anti-regime movements. A more persuasive case against Sadat would analyze why he was alone in the quest for peace, and therefore could not negotiate a broader settlement, and why Egypt's economic problems have defeated both Nasser's socialism and Sadat's free-enterprise policies. Nevertheless, Heikal's book is very readable and, like David Hirst and Irene Beeson's similarly one-sided 1982 biography, reflects a view widespread in the Arab world.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1983
Publisher: Random House