Joshua Hammer is a former Newsweek Bureau Chief and Correspondent-at-Large in Africa and the Middle East. His latest book, The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird, was published in February.
 (October 2020)


Because It’s Still There

Climbers approaching the summit of Mount Everest, 2010

The World Beneath Their Feet: Mountaineering, Madness, and the Deadly Race to Summit the Himalayas

by Scott Ellsworth
On the morning of May 22, 2019, Nirmal Purja, a Nepalese former officer in the British special forces, was making his way down from the 29,029-foot summit of Mount Everest when he took a photograph that was soon disseminated around the world. It showed one hundred people in colorful parkas …

Exit Mugabe

Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, and President Robert Mugabe at Mugabe’s ninety-second birthday celebrations, Masvingo, Zimbabwe, February 2016

Two Weeks in November: The Astonishing Untold Story of the Operation That Toppled Mugabe

by Douglas Rogers
Two Weeks in November: The Astonishing Untold Story of the Operation That Toppled Mugabe by Douglas Rogers relates in dramatic detail Mnangagwa’s flight across the border and transformation—however briefly—into a sympathetic, even heroic figure, as well as the bizarre twists and turns that, a few days later, would lead to the overthrow of one of Africa’s longest-ruling dictators.

Zimbabwe: Enter the Crocodile

Zimbabwean members of parliament celebrating President Mugabe’s resignation, Harare, November 21, 2017
In early December, three weeks after the military coup that unseated Zimbabwe’s ninety-three-year-old president, Robert Mugabe, I traveled to Harare, the country’s threadbare capital. A large white canvas tent had been set up on fairgrounds near the city center. Loyalists from the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front …

Egypt: The New Dictatorship

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

The Egyptians: A Radical History of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution

by Jack Shenker

Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy

edited by Dalia F. Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi
Recent events in Egypt have raised the question of whether the tradeoff General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has offered the Egyptian public—keeping them safe in exchange for an authoritarian state and far-reaching restrictions on civil society—is working.

Iraq: The Terrible Battle for Mosul

Iraqi civilians fleeing from the ISIS-controlled towns of Shirqat and Gwer, which Iraqi and Kurdish forces were attempting to recapture as part of the Mosul offensive, July 2016
The Islamic State has had two years to prepare for the assault, and according to Iraqi intelligence it has created formidable defenses against any attack. Between six and nine thousand ISIS fighters are inside the city, few of whom, presumably, would be prepared to surrender. “In Mosul,” a US diplomat told me, “it will be a fight to the death.”


Will Tunisia Become Less Secular?

Tunisian women at a meeting for the Ennahda party, Tunis, April 17, 2011

Outside Tunis one afternoon last week I visited the Tunisian American Association for Management Studies, which offers vocational training and literacy courses to working-class women. A sewing class had just ended, and the participants—a dozen girls and women between the ages of fifteen and fifty, most of them wearing headscarves—agreed to talk about the country’s first democratic election, scheduled to take place on October 23. In recent weeks, polls have showed that Ennahda (Renaissance), an Islamist party banned by the dictatorship of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, is poised to win about one third of the vote. Ennahda’s leaders insist that if they win they will respect equal rights for men and women and maintain a division between Islam and the state. Still, they are widely distrusted.