Cairo is a 1,400-year old metropolis whose streets are inscribed with sagas, a place where the pressures of life test people’s equanimity to the limit. Virtually surrounded by desert, sixteen million Cairenes cling to the Nile and each other, proximities that color and shape lives. Packed with incident and anecdote, Cairo: City of Sand describes the city’s given circumstances and people’s attitudes of response. Apart from a brisk historical overview, this book focuses on the present moment of one of the world’s most illustrious and irreducible cities. Cairo steps inside the interactions between Cairenes, examining the roles of family, tradition, and bureaucracy in everyday life. The book explores Cairo’s relationship with its ‘others,’ from the French and British occupations to modern influences like tourism and consumerism. Cairo also discusses characteristic styles of communication, and linguistic memes, including slang, grandiloquence, curses, and jokes. Cairo exists by virtue of these interactions, synergies of necessity, creativity, and the presence or absence of power. Cairo, City of Sand reveals a peerless urban balancing act, and transmits the city’s overriding message: the breadth of the human capacity for loss, astonishment, and delight.
City of Sand
For sale only in the Middle East
Cairo’s Street Stories
Exploring the City’s Statues, Squares, Bridges, Gardens, and Sidewalk Cafés
Exploring the City’s Statues, Squares, Bridges, Gardens, and Sidewalk CafésLesley Lababidi
In 1872, Ismail Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, was the first to adopt the European custom of positioning heroic statues on public display as a symbolic message of the continuing authority of the ruling Muhammad Ali dynasty to which he belonged, but it was not until the early twentieth century and the determination of sculptor Mahmoud Mukhtar that such public art gained general acceptance, and today statues stand, ride, or sit in the streets, squares, and gardens of Cairo. Each sculpture adds a piece to the jigsaw of history spanning personalities and events that shaped the city and wider Egypt from 1805 to 1970, and here Cairo-based author Lesley Lababidi provides a unique perspective on Egyptian history through looking at more than thirty statues and monumental sculptures and the stories behind them. Between statues, she explores Cairo’s growth and its multidimensional identity, as manifested in the development and changing use of city space over the centuries, and examines the relationship of Cairo’s modern denizens with the landscapes, districts, palaces, archaeological sites, cafés, bridges, and gardens of their great and maddening city, the Mother of the World. Illustrated throughout with color photographs and archival pictures, Cairo’s Street Stories presents a unique and lively view of the history that fashioned the city’s streets and open spaces, and of the many and often unexpected uses to which its inventive inhabitants put them....read more
15 April 2008
Over 100 color illus.
Past, Present and Future
Past, Present and FutureJean-Yves Empereur
During the 1990s the French archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur has conducted a series of remarkable excavations in the ancient city of Alexandria. His discoveries—both under water and on dry land—have considerably increased our knowledge of a city whose splendors and vast population amazed ancient travelers to the eastern Mediterranean. Founded in 331 bc by Alexander the Great, after whom it is named, Alexandria equaled Athens in its sphere of influence and rivaled Rome politically. A major center of Hellenistic, Jewish, and Christian culture, it was famed for its Library, its Mouseion and its magnificent palaces (home to Cleopatra and her ancestors), of which, sadly, no traces remain. However, Jean-Yves Empereur’s underwater excavations have recovered several thousand blocks from the famous lighthouse, which watched over the port from the third century bc until the fourteenth century and was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Meanwhile, the excavations of six further sites on land, including the catacombs at Kom el-Shuqafa and the necropolis at Gabbari, have provided much new information on the architecture, living conditions, religious practices, and artistic life of the city of Alexander and Cleopatra. In this book Empereur describes the methods he used to unearth these exciting and spectacular finds—often under very difficult conditions—and assesses the information they reveal about the life of the ancient city. The book is richly illustrated with dramatic photographs, most of them by Stéphane Compoint....read more
128 color photographs, 28 b/w illus.
A Beirut Anthology
Travel Writing through the Centuries
Edited by T.J. Gorton
Travel Writing through the CenturiesEdited by T.J. Gorton
Beirut has seen many armies and empires come and go, but the legacy of this long history is not so much in surviving monuments as in the quintessential Levantine spirit of the people. A commercial hub since the days of the Phoenicians, it was a center of learning under the Romans, its law school pre-eminent in the Empire. Both currents are discernible today, with vibrant Arab, French, and American universities and more publishing houses than the rest of the Arab world coexisting with the most dynamic financial center in the Middle East. Beirut was the point of entry to the Levant for many Europeans and Americans undertaking a Grand Tour or a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and visitors (whether their focus was piously Biblical or more prosaic) recorded their impressions of this effervescent port city where East rubs against West. A Beirut Anthology gathers the choicest of these, from writers as diverse as Alphonse de Lamartine and Mark Twain, providing a surprising and vivid glimpse behind the veil of this elusive and alluring city....read more
1 August 2015
20 b/w illus.
Egyptian Customs and Festivals
How do Egyptian Muslims celebrate Ramadan? How do Copts—Egyptian Christians—celebrate Easter? What should you expect to find on the table when invited to eat in an Egyptian home? What do you say when an Egyptian colleague sneezes? Exactly what do Egyptians do with a mortar and pestle, a sieve, and a bag of nuts seven days after the birth of a baby? Samia Abdennour, once an outsider from Palestine, now thoroughly at home in Egypt, is here to tell you all about these matters—and many more. In a book that aims to introduce the unfamiliar newcomer or interested foreign reader to the hows, whats, and whys of Egyptians life, the author covers such diverse topics as birth, marriage, and death; religious festivals and fasting; food in the home and on the street; business etiquette and terms of politeness. She describes how some traditions differ between the two religious communities, the Muslims and the Copts, and how some customs are shared by all Egyptians—like the spring festival of Shamm al-Nisim (‘smelling the breezes’) that goes back to pharaonic times. With Egyptian Customs and Festivals, you need never be at a loss in a social situation in Egypt—or fail to understand what your neighbors are up to. Illustrated throughout with color photographs of daily life and special occasions, this fascinating and informative book is a must-have for anyone new to Egyptian culture....read more
1 April 2007
20 color illus.