You Have Not Yet Been Defeated: Selected Works 2011–2021

Alaa Abd el-Fattah

Translated by a collective, with a foreword by Naomi Klein

French paperback with flaps, 448 pages
Published 20 October 2021

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Alaa Abd el-Fattah is arguably the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt, if not the Arab world, rising to international prominence during the revolution of 2011. A fiercely independent thinker who fuses politics and technology in powerful prose, an activist whose ideas represent a global generation which has only known struggle against a failing system, a public intellectual with the rare courage to offer personal, painful honesty, Alaa’s written voice came to symbolize much of what was fresh, inspiring and revolutionary about the uprisings that have defined the last decade. Collected here for the first time in English are a selection of his essays, social media posts and interviews from 2011 until the present. He has spent the majority of those years in prison, where many of these pieces were written. Together, they present not only a unique account from the frontline of a decade of global upheaval, but a catalogue of ideas about other futures those upheavals could yet reveal. From theories on technology and history to profound reflections on the meaning of prison, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated is a book about the importance of ideas, whatever their cost. 

Click here for information on the Free Alaa campaign.

‘The text you are holding is living history.’
— Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything

‘Don’t read this book to be comforted. Read it to be challenged, terrified, enlightened, moved, and amazed.’
— Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire

‘Alaa is the bravest, most critical, most engaged citizen of us all. At a time when Egypt has been turned into a large prison, Alaa has managed to cling to his humanity and be the freest Egyptian.’
— Khaled Fahmy, author of All The Pasha’s Men

‘Alaa is in prison not because he committed a crime, not because he said too much, but because his very existence poses a threat to the state. Those who are bold, those who do not relent, will always threaten the terrified and ultimately weak state which must, to survive, squash its opponents like flies. But Alaa will not allow himself to be crushed like that, I know.’
— Jillian C. York, director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

‘Alaa is a philosopher of everyday life and lifelong struggle; he doesn’t merely find meaning in that which we go through, especially in dark political moments, but creates meaning and gives it form in writing. And he does so from a highly entrenched and implicated place in the present. His thoughts know no frontiers; they pierce through local contexts to inspire new modes of thinking about the chaotic substance of politics.’
— Lina Attalah, editor in chief of Mada Masr

‘There is a defiant joy about his prose. He has turned the dark prison space of his jail into a bright public sphere where he is far more liberated inside his solitary cell than he would have been freely floating in the streets of Cairo. In his defiant prose, in the new Arab personhood he exemplifies, Alaa Abd el-Fattah is a living testimony that the Arab revolutions have been a resounding success.’
Hamid Dabashi, Middle East Eye

‘It is this steadfast devotion to the Egyptian people that make Alaa’s entries in You Have Not Yet Been Defeated the most honest and compelling document that we have of the state of Egypt today. We learn that, in Alaa’s reluctance to grasp the limelight, there isn’t space for ego, nor time for complacency when lives are at stake.’
Benjamin Ashraf, The New Arab

‘[You Have Not Yet Been Defeated] is really a book about January and its aftermath. Not in the form of a straightforward journalistic recording of events, but an attempt to convey the passions and the frustrations that the moment made possible. Throughout the chronologically arranged essays, the reader gets a sense of how Alaa’s voice changes as his imprisonment continues and the world around him appears even more impervious to change. The focus on the personal is therefore not simply a quirk of Alaa’s style of expression; it is testament to the fact that, in Egypt, the boundaries between the personal and the political are not respected by political authorities…. We should not read this book to make an exception of Alaa. At his best, he attempts to speak to, and to bring into existence, a movement bigger than himself.’
Nihal El Aasar, Jacobin

‘“Fix your own democracy,” Abd el-Fattah encourages us, from his cell; Egypt’s rulers attempt to isolate, fragment and conceal resistance because it needs a global ecosystem to flourish. What can any one person do with a legacy of pain, struggle and courage? There are no easy solutions here, but You Have Not Yet Been Defeated is a heartbreaking, hopeful answer.’ 
Rachel Aspden, Guardian

You Have Not Yet Been Defeated is both an archive and a blueprint: an archive of a revolution deferred, and a blueprint for bringing the world that it dreamt of into existence.’
Gautam Bhatia, The Wire

‘That the Egyptian activist is writing from a cell reminds us of the fragility of our remaining freedoms; that his arguments continue to be self-interrogating, engaging and complex is a rebuke to the comfortable moral certainties of social media.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘Alaa Abd el-Fattah emerges as a political observer who has documented and analysed Egypt’s tragic history since the Arab Spring like no one else; someone who does not only look deep into his own society, but sees the bigger picture beyond Egypt’s national borders.’

‘Wherever they are now to be read, his essays will have a liberating effect that has to be internalized, perhaps particularly in Western readers, who must now return this favor, to Alaa and to Egypt.’
Julian Sayarer, Jacobin

‘Alaa’s book is best left unabridged – allow it to swoop on you with its truths. Reach back to it at regular intervals, let it be a map for your own thoughts on another world we must urgently hope is possible. One where prisons – not prisoners – are erased.’
Barathi Nakkeeran, The Hindu

Alaa Abd el-Fattah is an Egyptian writer, technologist and political activist. He has been prosecuted or arrested by every Egyptian regime to rule in his lifetime and has been held in prison for all but a few months since the coup d’état of 2013. Collected here by his family and friends, for the first time in English, are a selection of his speeches, interviews, social media posts and essays since the outbreak of revolution in January 2011 – many written from inside prison.