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.
The City Victorious
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Artisan Entrepreneurs in Cairo and Early Modern Capitalism 1600–1800
While historians have mined archives and court documents to create a picture of the commercial activities, networks, and infrastructure of merchants in Egypt prior to its incorporation into the European capitalist economy, few have documented a similar picture of the artisans and craftspeople. Artisans outnumbered merchants and their economic weight was considerable, yet details about their lives, the way they carried out their work, and their role or position in the economy is largely unknown. Nelly Hanna seeks to redress this gap by locating and exploring the role of artisans in the historical process. These artisans developed a variety of capitalist practices, both as individuals and collectively in their guilds. Hanna details how they defied the constraints of the guilds and actively engaged in the markets of Europe, demonstrating how Egyptian artisan production was able to compete and survive in a landscape of growing European trade. Deftly synthesizing a wide range of economic and historical theory, Hanna reinvigorates the current scholarship on early Ottoman history and provides a persuasive challenge to the largely shallow perception of artisans’ role in Egypt’s economy....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.
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.
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