In 1968 Egyptian novelist and political exile Waguih Ghali committed suicide in the London flat of his editor, friend, and sometime lover, Diana Athill. Ghali left behind six notebooks of diaries that for decades were largely inaccessible to the public. The Diaries of Waguih Ghali: An Egyptian in the Swinging Sixties, in two volumes, is the first publication of its kind of the journals, casting fascinating light on a likable and highly enigmatic literary personality. Waguih Ghali (1930?–69), author of the acclaimed novel Beer in the Snooker Club, was a libertine, sponger, and manic depressive, but also an extraordinary writer, a pacifist, and a savvy political commentator. Covering the last four years of his life, Ghali’s Diaries offer an exciting glimpse into London’s swinging sixties. Volume 2 covers the period from 1966 to 1968. Moving from West Germany to London and Israel, and back in memory to Egypt and Paris, the entries boast of endless drinking, countless love affairs, and of mingling with the dazzling intellectuals of London, but the Diaries also critique the sinister political circles of Jerusalem and Cairo, describe Ghali’s trepidation at being the first Egyptian allowed into Israel after the 1967 War, and confess in detail the pain and difficulties of writing and exile. Including an interview conducted by Deborah Starr with Ghali’s cousin, former director of UNICEF-Geneva, Samir Basta.
This cohesive account of Egypt’s millennia-long past offers readers a sure guide through the sometimes labyrinthine corridors of Egypt’s past, from the mysterious predynastic kingdoms to the nation-state of the twenty-first century. The author addresses central scholarly issues such as how Egyptian history can be treated as a whole and how the west has shaped prevailing images of it, both through direct contact and through the lens of western scholarship. Drawing on current historical scholarship as well as his own research, Jason Thompson has written a remarkable work of synthesis and concision, offering students, travelers, and general readers alike an engaging one-volume narrative of the extraordinarily long course of human history by the Nile. This updated paperback edition contains new material on the 25 January Revolution and the fall of the Mubarak regime.
One of the first three books published by the AUC Press after its founding in 1960 was A Muslim Manual of War, an annotated editing and translation of a hitherto little-known fifteenth-century Arabic manuscript on the art of war, prepared by George Scanlon, then embarking on his career to become one of the most respected scholars in the field of Islamic art, architecture, archaeology, and history. Now, in celebration of 50 years of the AUC Press, and in honor of Professor Scanlon’s recent retirement after an illustrious career, most recently as professor of Islamic art and architecture in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations at the American University in Cairo, the AUC Press is proud to make available once again this long out-of-print book, as a freely accessible scanned facsimile with a new Introduction by the author and a Foreword by eminent scholar Carole Hillenbrand, a former student of Professor Scanlon. Click here to download the free PDF.
Al-Fustat, the original Arab capital of Egypt, was founded in A.D. 642 (A.H.21) around the Roman–Byzantine fortified town of Babylon in what is now Old Cairo. Early records and modern archaeological excavations of the site of al-Fustat have been of great interest to scholars investigating the life and development of medieval Arab cities as well as to those studying the organization and growth of early Arab Egypt. In this comprehensive study, first published by the AUC Press in 1987, Dr. Kubiak synthesizes the evidence from both medieval documentary and narrative sources and twentieth century archaeology to present a detailed history of al-Fustat. In it he traces and examines the geography of the site; the pre-Islamic settlements; the foundation and early development of the city and its demographic and territorial evolution; and the topography of the city and its architecture. Click here to download the free PDF.
In the decades before Nasser’s seizure of power and the Suez crisis, Alexandria was a magnet for the wealthy, the gifted, and the glamorous from around the world. The whole city looked seaward, its port one of the busiest in the Mediterranean, its spirit ecumenical, its life luxuriant and sensual. Alexandria was barely an Egyptian city, and the Egyptians who live there now inhabit the gently crumbling remains of a foreign world, whose palatial villas, Venetian apartments, art-nouveau cafes, Moorish hotels, and cinemas conceived in thirties deco, are haunted by a departed cast. “I lived a great, extravagant, and colorful life in wartime Alexandria,” recalled Lawrence Durrell, whose Alexandria Quartet is one of the greatest protraits of a city in modern literature. Michael Haag, who has lived in Alexandria, and has known Durrell and others who lived there during its cosmopolitan heyday, has retraced their footsteps to present an absorbing account of the places and the people of this most remarkable of cities. ‘’Michael Haag mixes memory and biography, politics and cultural studies in clear and seamless prose.’’—The New York Review of Books
“Alexandria is still alive and alters even when one tries to sum her up . . . . Only the climate, only the north wind and the sea remain as pure as when Menelaus, the first visitor, landed three thousand years ago.” In the autumn of 1915, in a “slightly heroic mood”, E.M. Forster arrived in Alexandria, full of lofty ideals as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Yet most of his time was spent exploring “the magic, antiquity and complexity” of the place in order to cope with living in what he saw as a “funk-hole.” With a novelist’s pen, he brings to life the fabled, romantic city of Alexander the Great, capital of Greco-Roman Egypt, beacon of light and culture symbolized by the Pharos, where the doomed love affair of Antony and Cleopatra was played out and the greatest library the world has ever known was built. Threading three thousand years of history with vibrant strands of literature and punctuating the narrative with his own experiences, Forster immortalized Alexandria, painting an incomparable portrait of the great city and, inadvertently, himself.
The Treaty of Ghent signed in 1814, ending the War of 1812, allowed Americans once again to travel abroad. Medical students went to Paris, artists to Rome, academics to Göttingen, and tourists to all European capitals. More intrepid Americans ventured to Athens, to Constantinople, and even to Egypt. Beginning with two eighteenth-century travelers, this book then turns to the 25-year period after 1815 that saw young men from East Coast cities, among them graduates of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, traveling to the lands of the Bible and of the Greek and Latin authors they had first known as teenagers. Naval officers off ships of the Mediterranean squadron visited Cairo to see the pyramids. Two groups went on business, one importing steam-powered rice and cotton mills from New York, the other exporting giraffes from the Kalahari Desert for wild animal shows in New York. Drawing on unpublished letters and diaries together with previously neglected newspaper accounts, as well as a handful of published accounts, this book offers a new look at the early American experience in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean world. More than thirty illustrations complement the stories told by the travelers themselves.
Few works about the Middle East have exerted such wide and long-lasting influence as Edward William Lane’s An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. First published in 1836, this classic book has never gone out of print, continuously providing material and inspiration for generations of scholars, writers, and travelers, who have praised its comprehensiveness, detail, and perception. Yet the editions in print during most of the twentieth century would not have met Lane’s approval. Lacking parts of Lane’s text and many of his original illustrations (while adding many that were not his), they were based on what should have been ephemeral editions, published long after the author’s death. Meanwhile, the definitive fifth edition of 1860, the result of a quarter century of Lane’s corrections, reconsiderations, and additions, long ago disappeared from bookstore shelves. Now the 1860 edition of Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians is available again, with a useful general introduction by Jason Thompson. Lane’s greatest work enters the twenty-first century in precisely the form that he wanted.
The Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (A.D. 1332–1406) are in many ways the most remarkable product of Islamic thought. Not only did Ibn Khaldun sum up the accumulated knowledge and leading doctrines of his civilization, but in many fields he broke new ground and anticipated the findings of Western social scientists of the last two centuries. The passages have been grouped to illustrate Ibn Khaldun’s views on historical method, geography, economics, public finance, population, society and state, and the theory of being and theory of knowledge. This selection is intended for students of thought, rather than specialized Arabic scholars, and for those interested in the intellectual background of the Arab world.
Yuhanna al-Armani has long been known by historians of Coptic art as an eighteenth-century Armenian icon painter who lived and worked in Ottoman Cairo. Here for the first time is an account of his life that looks beyond his artistic production to place him firmly in the social, political, and economic milieu in which he moved and the confluence of interests that allowed him to flourish as a painter. Who was Yuhanna al-Armani? What was his network of relationships? How does this shed light on the contacts between Cairo’s Coptic and Armenian communities in the eighteenth century? Why was there so much demand for his work at that particular time? And how did a member of Cairo’s then relatively modest Armenian community reach such heights of artistic and creative endeavor? Drawing on eighteenth-century deeds relating to al-Armani and other members of his social network recorded in the registers of the Ottoman courts, Magdi Guirguis offers a fascinating glimpse into the ways of life of urban dwellers in eighteenth-century Cairo, at a time when a civilian elite had reached a high level of prominence and wealth. Illustrated with 28 full-color reproductions of al-Armani’s icons, An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt is a rich and compelling window on Cairene social history that will interest students and scholars of art history, Coptic studies, or Ottoman history.
While historians have mined archives and court documents to create a picture of the commercial activities, networks, and infrastructure of merchants in Egypt prior to its incorporation into the European capitalist economy, few have documented a similar picture of the artisans and craftspeople. Artisans outnumbered merchants and their economic weight was considerable, yet details about their lives, the way they carried out their work, and their role or position in the economy is largely unknown. Nelly Hanna seeks to redress this gap by locating and exploring the role of artisans in the historical process. These artisans developed a variety of capitalist practices, both as individuals and collectively in their guilds. Hanna details how they defied the constraints of the guilds and actively engaged in the markets of Europe, demonstrating how Egyptian artisan production was able to compete and survive in a landscape of growing European trade. Deftly synthesizing a wide range of economic and historical theory, Hanna reinvigorates the current scholarship on early Ottoman history and provides a persuasive challenge to the largely shallow perception of artisans’ role in Egypt’s economy.
This comprehensive study, first published by the AUC Press in 1992 examines the structure of the Ayyubid administration in Cairo and the associated military, religious, and commercial milieux. It goes on to survey in detail the changes in the general layout of Cairo–in defenses, governmental and private buildings, water resources, religious institutions and cemetery areas, and markets and commercial establishments. Click here to download the free PDF.
After 5,000 years of continuous habitation, Cairo remains the greatest metropolis in its quarter of the globe. The seat of pharaohs and sultans, the prize of conquerors from Alexander to Napoleon, the city has never stopped reinventing itself. ‘The Victorious’ is what the Arabs called Cairo, and the indomitable spirit of the place still merits the name. Max Rodenbeck’s richly textured biography combines a sweeping timescale with a keen eye for telling detail. It traces the life of Cairo from birth—the ancient Egyptians believed Creation itself took place there—through the heights of medieval splendor, and on to the present day. Modern Cairo is a place of stark contrasts. Skyscrapers abut ancient tombs and genteel colonial mansions. Pulled between the cultural poles of Paris and Mecca, the city’s population struggles under a double load as they cope with the burden of an incomparably rich past as well as the challenges of the future. Cairo: The City Victorious is a cultural excavation of one of the world’s great cities. Fusing the excitement of travel with the stimulation of history, it is an epic, resonant work.
Using the life and writings of Cyril III Ibn Laqlaq, 75th patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, along with a variety of Christian and Muslim chroniclers, this study explores the identity and context of the Christian community of Egypt and its relations with the leadership of the Ayyubid dynasty in the early thirteenth century. Kurt Werthmuller introduces new scholarship that illuminates the varied relationships between medieval Christians of Egypt and their Muslim neighbors. Demonstrating that the Coptic community was neither passive nor static, the author discusses the active role played by the Copts in the formation and evolution of their own identity within the wider political and societal context of this period. In particular, he examines the boundaries between Copts and the wider Egyptian society in the Ayyubid period in three “in-between spaces”: patriarchal authority, religious conversion, and monasticism.
One night in the year 411/1021, the powerful ruler of the Fatimid empire, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, rode out of the southern gates of Cairo and was never seen again. Was the caliph murdered, or could he have decided to abandon his royal life, wandering off to live alone and anonymous? Whatever the truth, the fact was that al-Hakim had literally vanished into the desert. Yet al-Hakim, though shrouded in mystery, has never been forgotten. To the Druze, he was (and is) God, and his disappearance merely indicated his reversion to non-human form. For Ismailis, al-Hakim was the sixteenth imam, descended from the Prophet, and infallible. Jews and Christians, by contrast, long remembered him as their persecutor, who ordered the destruction of many of their synagogues and churches. Using all the tools of modern scholarship, Paul Walker offers the most balanced and engaging biography yet to be published of this endlessly fascinating individual. To some, al-Hakim was God incarnate, to others an infallible imam, to still others he was a capricious tyrant. This book examines myth and fact, document and opinion, to present the most complete and detailed history yet written of the life and times of one of the medieval Islamic world’s most controversial figures.
The sensational discovery in 1922 of Tutankhamun’s tomb, close on the heels of Britain’s declaration of Egyptian independence, accelerated the growth in Egypt of both Egyptology as a formal discipline and of ‘pharaonism’—popular interest in ancient Egypt—as an inspiration in the struggle for full independence. Emphasizing the three decades from 1922 until Nasser’s revolution in 1952, this compelling follow-up to Whose Pharaohs? looks at the ways in which Egypt developed its own archaeologies—Islamic, Coptic, and Greco-Roman, as well as the more dominant ancient Egyptian. Each of these four archaeologies had given birth to, and grown up around, a major antiquities museum in Egypt. Later, Cairo, Alexandria, and Ain Shams universities joined in shaping these fields. Contesting Antiquity in Egypt brings all four disciplines, as well as the closely related history of tourism, together in a single engaging framework. Throughout this semi-colonial era, the British fought a prolonged rearguard action to retain control of the country while the French continued to dominate the Antiquities Service, as they had since 1858. Traditional accounts highlight the role of European and American archaeologists in discovering and interpreting Egypt’s long past. Donald Reid redresses the balance by also paying close attention to the lives and careers of often-neglected Egyptian specialists. He draws attention not only to the contests between westerners and Egyptians over the control of antiquities, but also to passionate debates among Egyptians themselves over pharaonism in relation to Islam and Arabism during a critical period of nascent nationalism. Drawing on rich archival and published sources, extensive interviews, and material objects ranging from statues and murals to photographs and postage stamps, this comprehensive study by one of the leading scholars in the field will make fascinating reading for scholars and students of Middle East history, archaeology, politics, and museum and heritage studies, as well as for the interested lay reader.
During the fifteenth century, the Mamluk sultanate that had ruled Egypt and Syria since 1249–50 faced a series of sustained economic and political challenges to its rule, from the effects of recurrent plagues to changes in international trade routes. Both these challenges and the policies and behaviors of rulers and subjects in response to them left profound impressions on Mamluk state and society, precipitating a degree of social mobility and resulting in new forms of cultural expression. These transformations were also reflected in the frequent reports of protests during this period, and led to a greater diffusion of power and the opening up of spaces for political participation by Mamluk subjects and negotiations of power between ruler and ruled. Rather than tell the story of this tumultuous century solely from the point of view of the Mamluk dynasty, Crowds and Sultans places the protests within the framework of long-term transformations, arguing for a more nuanced and comprehensive narrative of Mamluk state and society in late medieval Egypt and Syria. Reports of urban protest and the ways in which alliances between different groups in Mamluk society were forged allow us glimpses into how some medieval Arab societies negotiated power, showing that rather than stoically endure autocratic governments, populations often resisted and renegotiated their positions in response to threats to their interests. This rich and thought-provoking study will appeal to specialists in Mamluk history, Islamic studies, and Arab history, as well as to students and scholars of Middle East politics and government and modern history.
The launching of this hitherto unpublished book by the great nineteenth-century British traveler Edward William Lane (1801–76), a name known to almost everyone in all the many fields of Middle East studies, is a major publishing event. Lane was the author of a number of highly influential works: An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), his translation of The Thousand and One Nights (1839–41), Selections from the Kur-an (1843), and the Arabic–English Lexicon (1863–93). Yet one of his greatest works was never published: after years of labor and despite an enthusiastic reception by the publishing firm of John Murray in 1831, publication of his first book, Description of Egypt, was delayed and eventually dropped, mainly for financial reasons. The manuscript was sold to the British Library by Lane’s widow in 1891, and has only now been salvaged for publication by Dr. Jason Thompson, nearly 170 years after its completion. This enormously important book, which takes the form of a journey through Egypt from north to south, with descriptions of all the ancient monuments and contemporary life that Lane explored along the way, will be of immense interest to both ancient and modern historians of Egypt, and will become an essential companion to his Manners and Customs.
Most scholarship has attributed Sudanese independence in 1956 to British dominance of the Condominium, historical animosity toward Egypt, or the emergence of Sudanese nationalism. Dividing the Nile counters that Egyptian entrepreneurs failed to develop a united economy or shared economic interests, guaranteeing Egypt’s ‘loss’ of the Sudan. It argues that British dominance of the Condominium may have stymied initial Egyptian efforts, but that after the First World War Egypt became increasingly interested in and capable of economic ventures in the Sudan. However, early Egyptian financial assistance and the seemingly successful resolution of Nile waters disputes actually divided the regions, while later concerted efforts to promote commerce and acquire Sudanese lands failed dismally. Egyptian nationalists simply missed opportunities of aligning their economic future with that of their Sudanese brethren, resulting in a divided Nile valley. Dividing the Nile will appeal to historians, social scientists, and international relations theorists, among those interested in Nile valley developments, but its focused economic analysis will also contribute to broader scholarship on nationalism and nationalist theory.
Cynthia Nelson brings to life a bold and gifted Egyptian of the mid-twentieth century who helped define what it means to be a modern Arab woman. Doria Shafik (1908-1975), an Egyptian feminist, poet, publisher, and political activist, participated in one of her country’s most explosive periods of social and political transformation. During the ’40s she burst onto the public stage in Egypt, openly challenging every social, cultural, and legal barrier that she viewed as oppressive to the full equality of women. As the founder of the Daughters of the Nile Union in 1948, she catalyzed a movement that fought for suffrage and set up programs to combat illiteracy, provide economic opportunities for lower-class urban women, and raise the consciousness of middle-class university students. She also founded and edited two prominent women’s journals, wrote books in both French and Arabic, lectured throughout the world, married, and raised two children. For a decade, she ignited the imagination of the press, where she was variously described as the “perfumed leader,” a “danger to the Muslim nation,” a “traitor to the revolution,” and the “only man in Egypt.” Then, in 1957, following her hunger strike in protest against the populist regime of Gamal Abdul Nasser, she was placed under house arrest. Within months her magazines folded, her name was officially banned from the press, and she entered a long period of seclusion that ended with her suicide in 1975. With the cooperation of Shafik’s daughters, who made available her three impressionistic, unpublished, and sometimes contradictory memoirs, Nelson has uncovered Shafik’s story and brings the life and achievements of this remarkable woman to a Western audience.
Few Western scholars of the Middle East have exerted such profound influence as Edward William Lane. Lane’s Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1836), which has never gone out of print, remains as a highly authoritative study of Middle Eastern society. His annotated translation of the Arabian Nights (1839–41) retains a devoted readership. Lane’s recently recovered and published Description of Egypt (2000) shows that he was a pioneering Egyptologist as well as orientalist. The capstone of his career, the definitive Arabic-English Lexicon (1863–93), is an indispensable reference tool. Yet, despite his extraordinary influence, little was known about Lane and virtually nothing about how he did his work. Now, in the first full-length biography, Lane’s life and accomplishments are examined in full, including his crucial years of field work in Egypt, revealing the life of a great Victorian scholar and presenting a fascinating episode in east–west encounter, interaction, and representation.