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A gripping, in-depth account of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, through the eyes of its youthful vanguard

January 25, 2011, was a watershed moment for Egypt and a transformative experience for the young men and women who changed the course of their nation’s history. Tahrir’s Youth tells the story of the organized youth behind the mass uprising that brought about the spectacular collapse of the Mubarak regime. Who were these activists? What did they want? How did the movement they unleashed shape them as it unfolded, and why did it ultimately fall short of its goals? 

Rusha Latif follows the trajectory of the movement from the perspective of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition (RYC), a key front forged in Tahrir Square during the early days of the revolt. Drawing on firsthand testimonies and her own direct experience, she offers insight into the motives, hopes, strategies, successes, failures, and disillusionments of the movement’s leaders. Her account details the challenges these activists faced as they attempted to steer the movement they had set in motion and highlights the factors leading to their struggle’s defeat, despite its initial promise. 

Tahrir’s Youth questions the belief that Egypt’s revolution was spontaneous and leaderless. Timely and necessary, this study not only illuminates the uprising’s leadership dynamics but also demonstrates the need for imagining new modes of revolutionary organizing for the twenty-first century.

Rusha Latif

Rusha Latif is a researcher and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A first-generation Egyptian American, she traveled to Cairo in 2011 to conduct ethnographic research on the uprising. Her interests include social movements and revolutions; the study of class, gender, and race/ethnicity; Islamic Studies; and Middle Eastern Studies. She is the author of Tahrir’s Youth: Leaders of a Leaderless Revolution (AUC Press 2022).

Deeply personal and highly readable. . . . Tahrir’s Youth provides a compelling case study of what author Rusha Latif refers to as ‘task-oriented leaders’ at the individual level and how they shaped the course of the 18 days in Tahrir Square. The book is a concise overview for those seeking to understand the 2011 Egyptian revolution and where it came from

- Sarah Anne Rennick, Middle East Journal

As its excellent subtitle indicates, this book debunks many myths related to the so-called leaderless revolutions through meticulous fieldwork investigation of the young leaders of Egypt’s 2011 uprising in its Cairene epicenter. It is a much-needed contribution to the study of the twenty-first century’s pattern of uprisings, showing how a popular movement that goes beyond an ephemeral explosion of anger is necessarily led by more than a virtual network.

- Gilbert Achcar, University of London, author of The People Want

“Rusha Latif has produced a deeply intimate and incisive examination of the Egyptian revolution’s vanguard. At its core, this is a painstakingly narrated biography of the revolutionaries who changed Egypt, only to find themselves tragically changed by it. Of the manifold contributions of Tahrir’s Youth, the most inspiring is the researcher’s honest, candid, and reflexive grappling with her own responsibilities, predispositions, and vulnerabilities in the field. This book is an indispensable resource for understanding the Egyptian Revolution on its own terms and in its own words.

—Adel Iskandar, Simon Fraser University, author of Egypt in Flux

Rusha Latif . . . embedded herself with young activists and writes about what the world can learn from a defeated revolt.

- Leila Fadel, NPR

Latif’s alternative account of the events that occurred in Egypt is welcomed and will inform our understanding of not only the 2011 revolution in Egypt but also subsequent political events that take place in the Internet era.

- Pengfei Zhao, Social Forces

A fascinating glimpse into a revolutionary period . . . . Rusha Latif has made a valuable contribution to research on Egyptian politics with this study, and it will no doubt become a necessary reference for further work on the Arab Spring in Egypt

Middle East Monitor

Rusha Latif has given us a treasure of a book about the leadership of youth movements during the Egyptian uprising. The book is chock full of innovative arguments and evidence, derived from the author’s observations and experiences. With a focus on Tahrir Square and the youth networks that cooperated as a vanguard to make their voices heard, Latif’s study interrogates the Revolutionary Youth Coalition in an all-encompassing way. The richness of this study contributes greatly to our understanding of how the youth participated and led. Tahrir’s Youth should be required reading for anyone interested in Egypt’s uprising or the future of revolutionary movements.

―Joshua Stacher, Kent State University, author of Watermelon Democracy

"In a moment characterized by the revival of authoritarian regimes and democratic setbacks, this book is a welcome analysis that puts youth activism in post-2011 Egypt in a revealing historic, sociological, and political perspective. Using primary sources, including in-depth interviews with the youth leaders of the January 25 Revolution, Latif’s work offers indispensable insights into the mobilization strategies and trajectories of the youth groups that resisted three successive regimes between 2011 and 2013. Her book powerfully explains how youth activism has forever changed Egyptian politics.

Amr Hamzawy, Stanford University, editor of Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World