The potential for reform in the pattern of persistent authoritarianism in the Arab world has been the subject of interest for policymakers, the informed general public, and scholars alike, particularly since the end of the Cold War and again after the events of 11 September 2001. It is also one that has generated much debate within the Arab world itself, both in this period and, less prominently, but at times very acutely, throughout much of the twentieth century. Such debates and investigations have been carried out at the popular, political, intelligentsia, and scholarly levels, producing a varied array of commentary, analysis, and policy prescription. The subject ties in to questions of the relationship between Islam and politics, and, in a comparative context of democratization studies, the role of political culture, the nature of civil society and the middle class, the role of external powers, and the links-if any-between economic development and economic liberalization on the one hand, and political liberalization and democratization on the other. In exploring the chances of, and conditions for, liberalization and democratization, much of the relevant scholarly literature has also had to focus on the other side of the coin: what has sustained and may continue to sustain authoritarian rule? Findings and arguments about these questions are of direct relevance for Arabs themselves, policymakers with an interest in the region, and scholars both of the Arab world and of wider democratization studies: the wider field and the area-specific expertise have much to contribute to each other in this regard. Yet the significant array of scholarly literature relating to these questions remains widely dispersed in a bewildering range of different outlets, important parts of which are unexplored by, or inaccessible to, large sections of the potentially interested audience. This new four-volume collection from Routledge meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of the subject's vast literature and the continuing explosion in research output.