In a ruined temple along the Nile, Anthony Sattin came across a woman praying to the gods of ancient Egypt to bless her with a child. Later the same day, a policeman stopped his taxi to ask if he had a mobile phone - he wanted to call his mother. These encounters encapsulated the Egyptian experience; while undoubtedly forward-looking, Egyptians are obsessed with their long and well-documented past. Europeans, Turks, Mamelukes, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Jews, Christians and Muslims have all left their mark; but older than them all are the surviving customs from Ancient Egypt, from fertility rituals and funerary rites to the cult of saints, snake-charmers and magicians. Anthony Sattin has produced a ground-breaking work - a masterly synthesis of the best sort of travel writing and fascinating historical inquiry - which brings to life a country of perennial fascination.