This book is a critical analysis of the contemporary and historical roots of a new type of political leadership in Egypt, dating from the July 23, 1952 revolution led by an idealistic Egyptian nationalist and pan-Arabist named Gamal Abdul Nasser. The Nasser regime is interpreted as essentially a praetorian political system, in which the military has the potential to dominate the political structure, with the army as a core group and as a ruling class. In such a system, political leadership is recruited mainly from the army.
This volume chronicles the evolution of praetorian regimes in general, and then interprets Nasser's ascendancy to power from this perspective. The 1956 takeover ofthe Suez Canal and Nasser's transformation of his 1967 military debacle into a national "victory" is analyzed as the climax of his career. His inability to cement the uncomfortable federation with Syria and the imbroglio over his intervention in Yemen are seen as the beginning of his decline, culminating in the disastrous Six-Day War and his failure to prevent Hussein's annihilation of the Palestinians in Jordan.
Nasser's contribution to the new style of politics prevalent in the Arab and sub-Saharan African worlds is evaluated. Also included is an analysis of the machinations of coup-preparing and coup-making, and comments on the neo-Islamic, corporate orientations of the post-Nasser praetorians.
Perlmutter's work is unique in its combination of extensive scholarship, kowledge of Egyptian politics and familiarity with and ability to use current social science concepts. Egypt: The Praetorian State is the first comprehensive analytic and interpretive study of the Nasserite phenomenon.