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
City of Memory
80 b/w illus.
For sale only in the Middle East
Also available by this author
Cairo is an exploding modern metropolis of eighteen million people that nevertheless preserves within its heart the finest medieval city in the world, its alleys, mosques, and caravanserais the original setting for the Arabian Nights, whose atmosphere is palpable still for the visitor wandering through its bazaars, while at sunset the Pyramids glow gold against the Western Desert as they have done for one million seven hundred thousand evenings past. The monuments of pharaohs and sultans lie within the city’s reach, making Cairo and its environs an unequaled storehouse of human achievement. In this guide to the largest city in Africa and the political and cultural fulcrum of the Arab world, Michael Haag explores Cairo’s past and present in word and picture, from Saqqara to the Citadel of Saladin, from the ancient synagogue and churches of Old Cairo to the skyscrapers along the Nile, from Khan al-Khalili, the vast bazaar as intricate as inlay work, to the Belle Epoque façades of the downtown streets, and introduces you to the treasures of three great civilizations at the Islamic, Coptic, and Egyptian Antiquities museums. Beautifully illustrated with 150 color photographs, this is a fascinating armchair tour of Cairo in all its variety....read more
1 January 2006
200 color illus.
With Aswan, Abu Simbel, and the NileMichael Haag
Luxor stands on the site of ancient Thebes, Egypt’s opulent New Kingdom capital. It encompasses the spectacular temples of Luxor and Karnak on the east bank of the Nile, and on the west bank the vast necropolis, which includes the Colossi of Memnon, the famed Ramesseum, Queen Hatshepsut’s magnificent funerary temple, and the Valley of the Kings, riddled with royal tombs, among them the fabled resting place of Tutankhamun. The splendor and profusion of pharaonic monuments at Luxor justifies its reputation as the greatest outdoor museum in the world. Reaching beyond Luxor, this book also covers all the major sites of Upper Egypt, including Abydos, Dendera, Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo. Special attention is given to Aswan, one of the most beautiful places in Egypt, with its nearby island temple of Isis at Philae. The climax of this informed and richly illustrated book comes with the remarkable temples at Abu Simbel, with their colossal figures of Ramesses II and his lovely wife Nefertari cut from the living rock....read more
31 December 2009
200 color photographs, 4 maps
Photographs of the City, 1860–1960Michael Haag
Using vintage photographs from the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth, many of them from private family albums, this book brings to life the world of that vanished Alexandria, a vibrant, stylish, and cosmopolitan city, the largest port in the Mediterranean, that was the prosperous gateway between Egypt and the world. Seen here in the setting of their homes and gardens, and on the city’s streets and beaches, the faces of those forgotten Alexandrians come to life: the Greeks, Italians, Jews, and all those others from around the Mediterranean whose energy and expertise helped modernize and develop Egypt, and who planted their family roots in the city. This was the luxuriant and evocative city celebrated by Constantine Cavafy, E.M. Forster, and Lawrence Durrell, and they too are included in these pages along with photographs of scenes and people that were familiar to them. Vintage Alexandria traces the development and growth of the city, follows its story through the dramatic events of two world wars, and above all provides a background to the city’s place in twentieth-century cultural history, through the eyes of Alexandria’s cosmopolitan citizens themselves. Those citizens and others who passed through the city and appear in these pages included Antony Benaki (the Greek cotton trader whose collection formed the basis of the famous Benaki Museum in Athens), Robert Koch (who isolated the cholera virus and developed a vaccine in an Alexandria laboratory), the Greek children’s writer Penelope Delta, Claude Vincendon (the third wife of Lawrence Durrell), King Victor Emanuel III of Italy, Eve Cohen (the second wife of Lawrence Durrell, and the model for “Justine”), Safinaz Zulfikar (later married to King Farouk as Queen Farida), Rudolph Hess (Hitler’s deputy, who attended school in Alexandria), Jean de Menasce (the “best translator” of T.S. Eliot), Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), the Egyptian film director Youssef Chahine, the Egyptian and international film star Omar Sharif, King Hussein of Jordan, Rhona Haszard (the post-impressionist painter), Ahmed Hassanein Pasha (the Egyptian explorer and diplomat), and Noel Coward (the English writer and wit, who sang at the Fleet Club in Alexandria and was mobbed by sailors)....read more
1 November 2008
A History and a Guide
E.M. Forster Introduction by Lawrence Durrell
A History and a GuideE.M. Forster
Introduction byLawrence Durrell
“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....read more
An Armenian Artist in Ottoman Egypt
Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic Icons
Magdi Guirguis Introduction by Nelly Hanna
Yuhanna al-Armani and His Coptic IconsMagdi Guirguis
Introduction by Nelly Hanna
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....read more
15 April 2008
28 color illus.
Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt, 1218–1250
Kurt J. Werthmuller
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....read more
1 July 2010
8 color illus.
A History of Egypt
From Earliest Times to the Present
From Earliest Times to the PresentJason Thompson
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....read more
80 b/w illus.