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
Doria Shafik, Egyptian Feminist
A Woman Apart
A Woman ApartCynthia Nelson
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....read more
14 b/w illus.
This book is only available for purchase from Egypt
American Travelers on the Nile
Early U.S. Visitors to Egypt, 1774–1839
Early U.S. Visitors to Egypt, 1774–1839Andrew Oliver
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....read more
27 March 2015
34 color illus.
From Cairo to Baghdad
British Travelers in Arabia
British Travelers in ArabiaJames Canton
Until the 1880s, British travelers to Arabia were for the most part wealthy dilettantes who could fund their travels from private means. With the advent of an imperial presence in the region, as the British seized power in Egypt, the very nature of travel to the Middle East changed. Suddenly, ordinary men and women found themselves visiting the region as British influence increased. Missionaries, soldiers, and spies as well as tourists and explorers started to visit the area, creating an even bigger supply of writers, and market for their books. In this elegantly crafted book, James Canton examines over one hundred primary sources, from forgotten gems to the classics of T.E. lawrence, Thesiger, and Philby. He analyzes the relationship between empire and author, showing how the one influenced the other, leading to a vast array of texts that might never have been produced had it not been for the ambitions of imperial Britain....read more
5 b/w illus.
The City Victorious
The City VictoriousMax Rodenbeck
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....read more