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.
The story of the Arab Revolt during the First World War and the Hashemite princes who led it is one of wartime expediency, double-dealing, and dynastic ambition, coming to a head at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, which shaped the modern Middle East. The story of the Hashemite dynasty at the Conference is the story of the birth of the modern history of a region that is now more than ever at the center of world affairs. Here Robert McNamara argues that the British cultivated the Hashemite Sherifs of Mecca more as an alternative focus for Muslim loyalty away from the Ottoman sultan than as leaders of truly independent nations. At the same time, the Sykes–Picot Agreement divided up the Middle East between Britain and France. The sense of betrayal that this caused has colored Arab nationalists’ views of the west ever since.
The reign of Abbas Hilmi II has long been neglected by historians. Lord Cromer, the ruling British Consul-General and Agent in Egypt from 1883 to 1907, published what has been seen as the authoritative book on the Egyptian sovereign, but typically, this painted an imperialist picture. Similarly, Egyptian historians have written largely from a Nasserist nationalist perspective. These memoirs– dictated by Abbas II to his secretary several decades after he had been exiled from Egypt in 1914 – provide a fascinating window on the mechanics of the strained relations between a sovereign and the power occupying his country. They reveal a caring man, desirous of reform, with definite progressive ideas. He was disillusioned by sycophantic Egyptian politicians who, fearing British wrath, rarely supported their monarch. Abbas Hilmi’s belief that he owed it to his country to rule to the best of his ability also brought him under constant threat of deposition from the imperious Lord Cromer. Eldon Gorst, Cromer’s successor, treated Abbas Hilmi with dignity, respecting him as a lawful sovereign, but when he died and was replaced by Lord Kitchener, the Khedive’s fortunes waned. Abbas and Kitchener detested each other from the start and it was to be Kitchener who engineered Abbas’s eventual deposition and exile. Rich in personal accounts, this book provides a unique piece of history, and is a valuable primary source for historians of both Egypt and colonialism.
This ground-breaking view of the navigational landscape of the Nile in medieval Egypt draws on a broad range of sources: medieval Arabic geographies; traveler accounts; archaeology; and meteorological, hydrological, and geological studies. John Cooper first charts the changing geography of the Nile waterways, particularly in the Delta, from the eve of Islam to the early modern period, and logs the “rise and fall” of these waterways for natural and/or anthropogenic reasons. He then presents a new perspective on the Nile, drawing on traveler accounts and environmental data to portray the river as a uniquely challenging and sometimes dangerous navigational environment requiring extensive local knowledge by skilled and hard-working Nile navigators. Finally, he looks at how the main Delta and Red Sea ports of medieval Egypt fitted into the navigational landscape described, explaining how these ports were affected by changes occurring to the navigational landscape, and how they reflected the navigational conditions of the Nile and surrounding seas.
This book examines the historic process traditionally referred to as the fall of Rome and rise of Islam from the perspective of the Red Sea, a strategic waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and a distinct region incorporating Africa with Arabia. The transition from Byzantium to the Caliphate is contextualized in the contestation of regional hegemony between Aksumite Ethiopia, Sasanian Iran, and the Islamic Hijaz. The economic stimulus associated with Arab colonization is then considered, including the foundation of ports and roads linking new metropolises and facilitating commercial expansion, particularly gold mining and the slave trade. Finally, the economic inheritance of the Fatimids and the formation of the commercial networks glimpsed in the Cairo Geniza is contextualized in the diffusion of the Abbasid ‘bourgeois revolution’ and resumption of the ‘India trade’ under the Tulunids and Ziyadids. Timothy Power’s careful analysis reveals the complex cultural and economic factors that provided a fertile ground for the origins of the Islamic civilization to take root in the Red Sea region, offering a new perspective on a vital period of history.
The Nile today plays a crucial role in the economics, politics and cultural life of ten countries and their more than 300 million inhabitants. No other international river basin has a longer, more complex and eventful history than the Nile. In telling the detailed story of the water politics of the Nile valley in the 19th and 20th centuries, social scien-tist Terje Tvedt recounts in details the political history of the Nile during its most revolutionary period. From the construction of the Aswan Dam to Britain’s role in Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian water politics, this thoroughly-researched history casts a fresh eye on the turbulent politics of this era. The colonial period saw sweeping changes in how politicians and scientists conceptualized and made use of water resources. In these pages are major political figures such as Churchill, Mussolini, Eisenhower, Eden, Nasser and Haile Selassie—indicating how much was at stake in the partition of the Nile’s resources. While Tvedt ends his narrative with the Nasser period, he makes clear that the issues involved—the political ecology of a major transnational river basin like the Nile—are still very much in play today.
Though Egypt was ruled by Turkish-speakers through most of the period from the ninth century until 1952, the impact of Turkish culture there remains under-studied. This book deals with the period from 1805 to 1952, during which Turkish cultural patterns, spread through reforms based on those of Istanbul, may have touched more Egyptians than ever before. An examination of the books, newspapers, and other written materials produced in Turkish, including translations, and of the presses involved, reveals the rise and decline of Turkish culture in government, the military, education, literature, music, and everyday life. The author also describes the upsurge in Turkish writing generated by Young Turk exiles from 1895 to 1909. Included is a CD containing Appendices of extensive bibliographic information concerning books and periodicals printed in Egypt during this period.
The American University in Cairo Press, founded in 1960, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2010. In half a century, the Press has grown from producing one or two books a year in the 1960s to its position today as the leading English-language publisher of the Middle East, with an annual publication program of up to 100 new books, and a backlist catalog offering of over 1,000 publications. To celebrate 50 years of excellence in publishing, Aleya Serour has drawn together extracts from some of the milestones among the fertile and diverse output of the AUC Press over five decades. Here is history, from Kent Weeks on ancient Thebes to Galal Amin on modern Egyptian society; culture, from Bernard O’Kane on early Mamluk decorative arts to Azza Fahmy on jewelry for spirit appeasement; and the best of Arabic literature in translation, from Taha Hussein and Naguib Mahfouz to Alaa Al Aswany and Ahmed Alaidy. . . . And much more, giving a rounded picture of the cultural contribution of one of the major players in Middle East publishing. Click here to download the free PDF.
An acclaimed economist and lifelong Palestinian nationalist Yusif Sayigh (1916-2004) came of age at a time of immense political change in the Middle East. Born in al-Bassa, near Acre in northern Palestine, he was witness to the events that led to the loss of Palestine and his memoir therefore constitutes a vivid social history of the region, as well as a revealing firsthand account of the Palestinian national movement almost from its earliest inception. Family and everyday life, co-villagers, landscapes, pleasures, outings, schooling, and political figures recreate the vanished world of Sayigh’s formative years in the Levant. An activist in Palestine, he was taken prisoner of war by the Israelis in 1948. Later, as an economist, he wrote extensively on Arab oil, economic development, and manpower, teaching for many years at the American University of Beirut and taking early retirement in 1974 to work as a consultant for a number of pan-Arab and international organizations. A single chapter on Palestinian politics provides insights into his later activist work and experiences of working as a consultant with the Palestine Liberation Organization to produce an economic plan for an eventual Palestinian state. This fascinating memoir by a pioneer and major figure of the Palestinian national movement is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Palestinian life during the first half of the twentieth century as well as an account of some of the most pressing political and economic issues to have faced the Arab world for the better part of the twentieth century.
For the most part of their shared history, Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt have experienced bouts of sectarian tension alternating with peaceful coexistence. Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt tells the story of Muslim–Christian relations in Egypt from the coming of Islam to the aftermath of the January 2011 revolution. It begins by describing how the Church of Alexandria came into existence, and created a monastic tradition that would influence the whole of Christendom, before exploring the theological controversies that plagued the Eastern Roman world before the advent of Islam. After bouts of persecution by the Roman emperors, the Copts were strongly opposed by the Melkite Church, but, with the Arab invasion of Egypt in the seventh century, they achieved a measure of independence and individuality that they retained over the centuries. The Copts were also subjected to periods of persecution—by rulers from the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid dynasties, and under the Mamluks—but by and large, a relatively satisfactory form of cohabitation was established. The authors argue that, even if they were occasionally attacked and persecuted, the Copts generally shared the fortunes of their Muslim neighbors, and that religious difference in Egypt was frequently exploited by rulers, both internal and external, for political gain. Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt provides an engaging and highly readable account of communal relations through key points in Egyptian history.
This cohesive account of Egypt’s millennia-long past offers readers a sure guide through the corridors of Egypt’s past, from the mysterious predynastic kingdoms to the nation-state of the twenty-first century. The author addresses central 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 and 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, the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the new era of President Sisi.
Every year, in the heart of the Nile Delta, a festival takes place that was for centuries the biggest in the Muslim world: the mulid of al-Sayyid Ahmad al-Badawi of Tanta. Since the thirteenth century millions of believers from neighboring regions and countries have flooded into Tanta, Egypt’s fourth-largest city, to pay devotional homage to al-Badawi, a much-loved saint who cures the impotent and renders barren women fertile.
This book tells for the first time the history of a mulid that for long overshadowed even the pilgrimage to Mecca. Organized by Sufi brotherhoods, it had, by the nineteenth century, grown to become the scene of a boisterous and rowdy festival that excited the curiosity of European travelers. Their accounts of the indecorous dancing and sacred prostitution that enlivened the mulid of al-Sayyid al-Badawi fed straight into Orientalist visions of a sensual and atavistic East. Islamic modernists as well as Western observers were quick to criticize the cult of al-Badawi, reducing it to a muddle of superstitions and even a resurgence of anti-Islamic pagan practices. For many pilgrims, however, al-Badawi came to embody the Egyptian saint par excellence, the true link to the Prophet, his hagiographies and mulid standing for the genuine expression of a shared popular culture.
Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen shows that the mulid does not in fact stand in opposition to religious orthodoxy, but rather acts as a mirror to Egyptian Islam, uniting ordinary believers, peasants, ulama, and heads of Sufi brotherhoods in a shared spiritual fervor. The Mulid of al-Sayyid al-Badawi of Tanta leads us on a discovery of this remarkably colorful and festive manifestation of Islam.
Eric Rouleau Foreword byAlain Gresh Translated byMartin Makinson
Eric Rouleau was one of the most celebrated journalists of his generation, a status he owed to his extraordinary career, which began when Hubert Beuve-Méry, director of Le Monde, charged him with covering the Near and Middle East.
In 1963, Rouleau was invited by Gamal Abd al-Nasser to interview him in Cairo, a move which was not lost on the young Rouleau—going through him, a young Egyptian Jew who had been exiled from Egypt in late 1951, shortly before the Free Officers coup, was a means to renew diplomatic ties with de Gaulle’s France. This exclusive interview, which immediately made headlines around the world, propelled Rouleau into the center of the region’s conflicts for two decades.
Writing between Cairo and Jerusalem, Rouleau was a chief witness to the wars of 1967 and 1973, narrating their events from behind the scenes. He was to meet all the major players, including Nasser, Levi Ashkol, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, and Anwar Sadat, painting striking portraits of each. More than a memoir, his book presents a history, lived from the inside, of the Israel–Palestine conflict.