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.
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.
A Cairo Anthology
Two Hundred Years of Travel Writing
Edited by Deborah Manley
Two Hundred Years of Travel WritingEdited by Deborah Manley
Cairo has long been recognized as one of the great cities of the world, and many travelers have recorded their descriptions of it over the centuries—from the early eye-witness account of Herodotus to the reflections of Sir Richard Burton, Florence Nightingale, and Mark Twain.
A Cairo Anthology gathers together the impressions of many of these writers: with them we experience the excitement of exploring the great city, through its crowded streets and colorful bazaars, we enter the hotels, hire donkeys, ascend to the historic Citadel, and look out across the Nile toward the Sphinx and the Pyramids, and we visit those vast monuments that are in reality always larger and more extraordinary than one can believe, and climb to their summits to gaze back at Cairo, the Mother of the World....read more
30 November 2013
27 b/w illus.
David Roberts’ Egypt
Lithographs by David Roberts, R.A.
David Roberts, born in 1796 near Edinburgh, was one of the most acclaimed landscape painters of the nineteenth century. In 1838 he left Europe for Egypt, where he drew all the main archaeological sites and Islamic monuments. These superb lithographs taken from his sketches and first published in London between 1842 and 1849 are a fine essay on his virtuosity and represent an unforgettable journey through time along the Nile Valley and across the Sinai peninsula....read more
266 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.