Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East

By: David D. Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: August 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7352-2062-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford

New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick has assembled a journalistic journey of corruption and violence with epic reporting finesse in his latest body of work: Into the Hands of the Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East.

David Kirkpatrick and his family relocated to Egypt in August of 2010. In his words he was "…drawn to Egypt in part by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I knew the roots of Al Qaeda and its ideology ran back to Egypt…" They settled in a one-story villa in Maadi which is a district about six miles up the Nile from the New York Times bureau on the island of Zamalek. Through countless assignments from 2011 to 2017, Mr. Kirkpatrick set pen to paper and generated a series of articles that exposed a government rife with corruption, deceit and violence. From August 14, 2011 to January 23, 2012, Mr. Kirkpatrick’s initial assignments were tailored toward reporting the clear and imminent danger and contrasts between democracy and a government that played by the rules it deemed necessary for its agenda to prevail. It was a time when Egyptians of all walks thumbed their noses at autocracy and elected a Muslim Brotherhood as their president. Mubarak was in his glory days and his mission was to keep the political run of ElBaradei (Egypt’s equivalent of a liberal) at bay.

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clear and imminent danger on any given day was a constant companion to Kirkpatrick. He covered riots in the streets and uprisings of a new generation that was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Yet, through it all, Kirkpatrick persevered and never lost sight of his mission: get the facts and commit them to paper. Kirkpatrick contrasts the complexities of an administration so foreign to our own sovereign nation of the United States. The notion is a beast that Kirkpatrick tackled with finesse and accuracy. There is a wealth of information and historical accounts that are woven between the lines of hidden agendas and the holy grail of the obvious quest of victory, power and control. There are divided lines between democracy as much as secular insistence in that he writes of a world and religion so foreign to the soils of our nation. He addresses the plight and intent of a nation divided by the premise of Christianity as much as Islam and goads his audience into considering both concepts without choosing sides.

I applaud Mr. Kirkpatrick for compiling a series of articles and occurrences that took him to a part of the world that is truly the epicenter of what is perhaps the axis of good as much as evil. He tempers his pen in a way that doesn’t pontificate his personal views as much as it delivers an account of what true grit reporting is about. He uses succinct language and doesn’t pepper his articles with opinionated prose or divisive suggestion. Rather, he sets a tone throughout of "this is how I see it and I’m merely reporting what went down"—refreshing at best.

Quill says: Into the Hands of the Soldiers is a work of journalistic prowess and ability.