In the first book of an Egypt series, John Crowley writes that there is more than one history of the world. That there are times when the universe transitions to another mode of operation, one that changes the rules so much that things that were once possible were now not.

There are two histories of Egypt.

In one history, the people of Egypt, after having been ruled by an aging tyrant, rose up and railed and rallied against their oppressors. They marched peacefully as they confronted security forces armed with tear gas, shields, batons, and when the stakes were higher, shotguns, live rounds, snipers, and crazed if somewhat imbecilic thugs. The army would not pit itself against its own people, and the people overcame their fears, sacrificed in life and blood, and made their voices heard. The dictator left. The people rejoiced. They scrubbed away the graffiti and dusted off the streets, collected the garbage, and took to heart the country they now knew to be theirs. The army maintained a noble, if neutral position, acting only for internal peace and external defense. The nation prospered. The reserves multiplied. The people chose their representatives on all levels. The land was made free, and there were no political prisoners, since unless a man actually commits a crime; he was protected by the law and shielded by the constitution.

And Egypt was free, and it flourished. It became once again a real beacon of values and learning, a light by which its neighbors could see through the darkness.

It was a hope, and a dream come true.

The other history of Egypt is somewhat darker, although it initially seems to follow the first; the people do revolt, as above, against the aging tyrant, they rail and they rally, and the army, as before, watches. They survive the imbecilic thugs, they survive the horses, and the camels, and their whip-brandishing, thoughtless riders. They free the television station by laying siege to it, and they surround the presidential palace, and then — and only then — after having built up as much resentment against their aging leader as he could accumulate against himself, does the army rid themselves of the aging man — thereby gaining the absolute trust and loyalty of the people. Now, unblemished in reputation, they are free to operate without oversight. By referring to the event as a revolution, they make heroes of the nation as well, and the nation breaks out into song and rejoices. Meanwhile, under the radar, rogue elements from the military, in alliance with the fragmented and still unaccountable security forces get together, and they start to operate. They detain protest organizers. Some they scare, and some they torture. Out of loyalty, and forgetful of the fact that their authority now derives from the people, they attempt to smooth things out for their ousted friends. The laws themselves do change, as does the constitution, but those who did terrible things, those to whom the law did not apply, are now simply invisible, above the law, and they continue to do terrible things.

The nation is weakened, step by step, and in time the people come to realize that it was not so much a revolution as a re-boot.

I like the first history a whole lot better.