2016 Action Project – East-West Virtual Book Club


Ahmed Aboul Naga, Iman Higazy, Abby Wiedenhaefer, John Ryan,  Anis Issa, Hala Abdel Gawad and Leisel Bogan

The Challenge

In today’s world we are inundated with infinite   information and opportunities, thereby increasing the   importance of how we choose to spend and invest   our limited time. The pursuit of knowledge is an endless endeavor and by summarizing culturally and politically-influential books of both the United States and Egypt, this project attempts to capitalize on the

investment of time, and distribute the benefits of that investment and knowledge broadly.

Project Overview

Works may include Henry Kissinger’s World Order, Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, Scott  Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia, Gamal Himdan’s Egypt’s Character, Robert Solet’s L’Egypt Passion Francaise,  John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Frank Feuredy’s On Tolerance, and Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty.

The book summaries will be from an objective perspective, and the size of the review will range from 1-4  pages, depending on the complexity of the work reviewed. For each summary, a Fellow will add a proverb  from his or her culture that they feel best sums up the work. For works of special significance, the East-West  Virtual Book Club will solicit brief political and social commentary from prominent figures relating to the  cultures of the United States and Egypt. All summaries will be provided in English and Arabic, and once they  are written, an online repository of the content will be created and distributed via a monthly newsletter and  there will be a monthly release of 3-4 books.

The Goal

The goal of the project is to instigate dialogue and promote understanding between the cultures of the  United States and Egypt, by writing summaries of various books that have shaped the the two civilizations.  The books will be chosen by committee based on their cultural and political significance. These books can  be treatises, histories, novels, or any book that provides insightful, political, cultural, scientific or economic  commentary significant to Egypt and the United States. In the rare case that a work has been made into a  cinematic production, summaries will be provided for both the book and film.

Population Served

The initial audience of the project will be Gabr Fellows from all years, however, the project is intended to  appeal to a wider audience of individuals from the United States and Egypt, who lack the time to read entire

Project Milestones

Phase 1:

  • In the first 3 months, the East-West Virtual Book Club will conduct organization of the project, agree on the format of the summaries and organize a presentation to the Gabr Fellows and other interested parties, via the Foundation website, LISTSERV, and numerous other mediums
  • Each month, the East-West Virtual Book Club will release reviews of two works, one written by an Egyptian author and the other by an American author

Phase 2:

  • Within 6 months of the launch, the East-West Virtual Book Club will have developed a virtual community forum for exchanging audience ideas, opinions and insights • Previous reviews from the 1st phase will be folded into the new weblog, while the format of twin reviews will continue

Expected Outcome

The expected outcomes for the East-West Virtual Book Club include: elevated awareness of the Fellowship  and its constructive role in fostering dialogue between the United States and Egypt; the gaining of stronger  ties between bibliophiles in the United States and Egypt; the development of a greater understanding of the  intellectual histories of each country, and a repository of useful summaries that could be used in educational  institutions as study tools, in government as “cheat sheets” for background briefings, by other book clubs,  or as reference materials for organizations seeking to develop similar exchange programs.

Furthering the Foundation’s Mission

The Foundation seeks to promote greater understanding between the people of the Middle East, Europe, and  the United States by fostering dialogue and the exchange of ideas. The Virtual Book Club will promote and  facilitate the exchange of the foundational ideas of each culture, and encourage dialogue on the intellectual  history and development of each country. It will provide a platform for intellectual engagement, and for the disputation and discussion of ideas.