It is perhaps axiomatic that charismatic leadership absorbed in the projection of its charisma, is followed by nuts-and-bolts leadership. Of the latter, President Sadat of Egypt is an instructive example. His six years as Egypt’s Head of State have been a remarkably open account of involvement in national and international affairs, on the one hand because the spotlight has often been for considerable periods on West Asia and on the other because his political, military and economic decisions following the death of Nasser have given a partially new identity to Egypt.
Col. Narayan’s book is, to Indian readers, a useful capsule study in its presentation of both Sadat, the man, and Sadat, the Arab leader. The book’s sub-title ’Man with A Mission’—when amplified incorporates what appears to be a theory of limited mission; that is to say a mission whose primary objectives are immediate.
This is narrated in detail by the author and includes Sadat’s consolidation of power in 1971 and 1972, his preparations for and considerable successes in the 1973 war with Israel, the subsequent disengagement agreement, his abrogation of Egypt’s treaty with the Soviet Union, his various approaches to the United States, and, more briefly, his relations with other Arab nations. There is also a useful account of Sadat’s early years and his association with Nasser.
Col. Narayan also provides a compendium of events involving Egypt since 1970, and in Chapter 13 entitled ‘Some Objections Reviewed’, makes an attempt to justify Sadat’s decisions. While, to a scholar of West Asian politics, the book may not appear to go sufficiently deep into the compulsions that Sadat faced in making these decisions, the lay reader will find the details given by the author combining into it study of leadership that is at once concise and revealing.
Prabhakar Menon is a member of the Indian Foreign Service.