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Cairo: The City Victorious Paperback – 8 Oct 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (8 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330337106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330337106
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,134,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By tamer@blueyonder.co.uk on 12 Mar 2002
Format: Paperback
Max Rodenbeck takes on a huge subject and manages to succesfully capture the spirit of Cairo, it's people, history, religion, turmoils and future. Unlike other books on the subject, Rodenbeck doesn't give you a bland historical perspective, but manages to give the reader a 'Fly on the wall' feeling. By doing so, he brings to life the the anguish,fear and joy of the variouys people that have molded Cairo into what it is today. I have read this book twice in the past month already, and would recommend it to any one interested in Cairo, Egypt and the Middle East. It also gives a very honest account, of arabs and egyptians in particular and the misconceptions held in the west.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 20 Dec 2000
Format: Paperback
Having lived much of his life in Cairo, Rodenbeck disparages its rich, intent on creating their own plastic California - what is the Egyptian for McDonald's? He prefers its proletarian quarters; Cairo, we discover, has a sense of humour.
The city is a geographical inevitability. It nestles, like vocal cords, in the neck of the Nile Valley, between Africa and Asia, across from Europe. Echoing to the languages of the Pharaohs, Greece, Rome, Islam, France, and England, it has seen many guises.
There was a thriving community there 3000 years before Christians numbered the millennia - an economic, social, and cultural crossroads. For half its life it was at the heart of an autonomous Egypt. The Greeks and Romans, however, relegated it to colonial subservience.
Cairo became the plaything of invading armies and evangelists. History and armies course through Cairo, as unhurried and irresistible as the Nile.
Yet Rodenbeck presents modern Cairo as a youthful, bustling place. Densely packed, it makes Manhattan look like a newly settled wilderness. People jam available rooms: homeless children spill onto the streets fighting for breath in the press of motor cars.
Home to a quarter of Egypt's population, Cairo dreams of being the cultural, political and economic powerhouse of the Middle East and North Africa: it may simply be dazzled by the glory of its past, pursuing a modernity it can never achieve.
Arab tourists flock to Cairo as a seat of Arab culture; Westerners come to consume antiquity. A legacy of ancient civilisation can be stultifying - tourism ossifies life. Meanwhile politicians have abdicated responsibility for its re-creation as a modern capital: political energies are dissipated in an ideological struggle between Islamic fundamentalism and modernism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By swirlydreamer on 4 July 2005
Format: Paperback
I have been to Cairo several times, and have a basic grasp of some of the history. This book, however, opened my eyes. I learnt an incredible amount about the history of this immense city, stretching back thousands of years. The narrative skillfully combines history with the author's own unique perspective, and you can certainly sympathise with his somewhat mixed response to the city and the people. He details the corruption and heavy bureaucracy which have crippled Egypt in recent years, but also mentions the charming mannerisms of the Egyptians, for example constantly beeping their horns, as well as their endless generosity. What impresses me the most about this book is, however, the way that Rodenbeck moves seemlessly through a period of 5,000 years.
This book is intended as a starting point, one from which readers can delve deeper into particular periods that fascinate them. I personally particularly enjoyed the chapters on Colonial Egypt, as it was fascinating to learn about the changes the French and then British brought about.
This is a genuinely fascinating read about a genuinely unique city. I would recommend this to anyone who would like to improve their knowledge about Cairo, or just gain a basic overview of the dramatic circumstances which have led to, to quote Rodenbeck the development of 'the greatest city in the world'.
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By A Customer on 26 Oct 1998
Format: Hardcover
From a review by Nicholas Wordsworth, the London Financial Times, October 17, 1998 "With Cairo - The City Victorious, Max Rodenbeck makes magnificent order out of urban disarray. Not only does Rodenbeck damp down the dust of contemporary Cairo, giving us a look into the character, attitudes and frustrations of everyday Cairenes. He also digs into the accumulated rubble and detritus of centuries, extracting from layer after layer of obscurity a history that few cities can match for richness, complexity or variety. Cairo, it emerges, is not just the capital of Arab civilisation or the largest city in Africa. In its depth of history, its breadth of culture and its cosmopolitan outlook it is one of the great cities of the world. In taking it on, Rodenbeck has produced a book that bears comparison with Geoffrey Moorhouse's Calcutta or Jan Morris's Venice." From a review by Anthony Sattin, the London Sunday Times September 27, 1998-10-26 "Rodenbeck charts the coming and going of pharaohs, Greeks and Romans, Arabs and crusaders, Turks and Europeans with wit and wisdom, bringing the millenniums to life with densely woven detail...When Rodenbeck gets up to date and starts relating events of the past 20 years, which he has witnessed, he makes the city his own. His experiences, like his acquaintances, are spread across the city. His eye for detail and for the subtlest nuances of conversation bring to life a cast of characters-hashish dealer, whisky-slugging millionaire, down-at-heel prince, Islamic fundamentalist, socialist writer and many others-to praise or deplore the old 'Mother of the World'." From a review by Tom Holland in the London Literary Review, October 1998 "Rodenbeck...Read more ›
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