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Anwar Sadat announced a commitment to a market-based economy in 1974, but it took Egypt another twenty years to put its economic house in order, setting the stage for the solid growth Egypt has experienced since 1995. Progress was torturously slow. At one point, Egypt was not able to keep to a commitment to the World Bank to phase out energy subsidies over a ten-year period. Why the delays? The usual explanation is a lack of will by Egyptian leaders. Posusney argues that the reforms were held back in fact by labor opposition to what workers correctly saw as an erosion of the comfortable privileges of the state corporative economy created by Gamal Abdul Nasser. She also shows that despite the extensive Marxist influence in the union movement, workers were not motivated by a sense of class struggle but instead by the "moral economy" view that workers have reciprocal rights and responsibilities with the state.

Posusney presents sufficient evidence to make her case plausible. And she acknowledges the limitations of her research, due especially to censorship and Egyptian government restrictions on researchers. (These prevented her from gaining a full picture of factory-level protests.) As a final strength, Posusney mercifully keeps to a minimum the sterile debate about theoretical frameworks which is so beloved of academics.