8. John R. Bradley (Biography)

As of October 2014, John R. Bradley no longer grants media interviews.


Bradley was born in England and educated at University College London, Dartmouth College and Exeter College, Oxford.

Fluent in Egyptian Arabic, he has been covering the Middle East for almost two decades, living independently in working-class neighbourhoods in cities as diverse as Tunis, Cairo, Tangiers, Jeddah and Sanaa, avoiding social-media driven news and the usual foreign correspondents’ hang-outs. Drawing on this personal, intimate and unique experience of the region, he has written four critically acclaimed, best-selling books:

The best-known is Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution (2008), which is the only book in modern history to have accurately predicted a popular revolt in a specific country. Western “experts” and bloggers focusing on the country either ignored the book on publication or dismissed its prediction as mistaken and sensationalist.

Characteristically, Max Rodenbeck, the Economist’s long-time Middle East correspondent, displayed his (and his fellow Cairo-based hacks’) profound ignorance of the grim reality experienced by ordinary Egyptians when he wrote for that publication of Inside Egypt. “The prediction of imminent revolt is not the book’s only misjudgment, sadly. It is generally overheated and overblown.”

However, the Egyptian opposition media, intellectuals and political activists, who like Bradley knew the real Egypt, were keenly aware that the country was indeed at boiling point, and that a revolution was on the immediate horizon.

In May 2007, a year before Inside Egypt was published, Bradley had been featured on the front page of the country’s leading independent Arabic-language newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, and in the accompanying full-page interview he warned of an imminent Egyptian revolution and stated that it would result only in economic and social disaster.

As The Bookseller reported, on publication, Inside Egypt was immediately banned by the Mubarak regime, a decision that caused a media firestorm in Egypt — which at the time had a vibrant opposition press.

After the revolution, Fareed Zakaria chose Inside Egypt as a Book of the Week on his CNN show GPS, saying in a live broadcast from Cairo: “If you want to understand how Egypt reached this crossroads, read this book.” The book was suddenly being celebrated in reviews and interviews with the author — as ever, the “experts” wise only after the event. As the leading pan-Arab newspapaer Asharq Al-Awsat noted: “Western journalists mocked Bradley when he predicted a revolution in Egypt… But after the uprising he was transformed into a star overnight, because of his book’s accurate prediction; and he is hunted by the print media, satellite channels and international television stations.”

Despite choosing not to be represented by a literary agency and being published by the small, New York-based publisher Palgrave Macmillan (which failed to allocate a significant budget to publicise any of Bradley’s four books), the numerous English-language editions have sold many tens of thousands of copies worldwide — making him among the most widely read British authors on the contemporary Middle East of his generation.

This is also despite the fact that, for what Palgrave Macmillan insist are valid legal reasons, his first (and most highly praised) book Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis (2005) was made available exclusively in the United States.

It was hailed as the best book on the kingdom in decades and received more than a dozen prominant reviews (New York Times, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Newsweek etc), quickly becoming a Foreign Affairs best-seller. A decade on, it remains in print and continues to sell hundreds of copies each year. However, it is still not officially being distributed outside of North America; and neither is it available as a Kindle edition on any amazon site.

In Britain and internationally, Bradley’s latest book After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts (2012) is the most widely reviewed, highly praised and among the best-selling of the many that have appeared on the Arab revolts.

However, despite being published in New York, and despite Bradley’s previous books having received huge media coverage in the United States, After the Arab Spring was completely ignored in that country — receiving not a single review.

The reason?

It heavily criticised the American-media driven coverage of the so-called Arab Spring as marking the birth of Western-style democracy, freedom and plurality, arguing instead precisely what has happened: a dramatic rise to power of various Islamic factions and the crushing of pro-democracy activits.

Both Inside Egypt and After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts (2012) are best-sellers in Arabic translation. Indeed, they are perhaps the most widely reviewed and discussed books in the region’s Arabic-language media by a Westerner writing on the contemporary Middle East. In Arabic, both are are available in book form or as free (legal) PDFs here. Another of Bradley’s books, Behind the Veil of Vice: the Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East (2010) is also available in Turkish.

Hundreds of Bradley’s essays, dispatches, reviews and op-eds have appeared in dozens of publications in the United Kingdom, United States and many other countries. They include:

The Washington Quarterly
The New Republic
The Times Literary Supplement
The Spectator
The London Telegraph
The Daily Star (Lebanon)
The Forward
The London Evening Standard
The New York Post
The Independent on Sunday
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
The Jewish Chronicle
The Washington Times
Newsweek International
Asia Times
Prospect Magazine (U.K.)
The Economist
Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia)
The Straits Times (Singapore)
The London Sunday Times

Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany)
Foreign Affairs

The Financial Times
The Daily Mail
The Independent

Bradley has been interviewed about the Middle East extensively by media outlets such as CNN, the BBC, PBS, NPR, CBS, Fox News, Al-Jazeera English, Sky News, Russia Today, Channel 4 News, Bloomberg TV and many others.

He has also lectured on the Middle East at numerous venues, including:

The Pacific Council for International Affairs
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Intelligence Squared
The Athenaeum in Claremont, California