Gaze toward the Nile from the desert hills of Mukattam, and the vast city of Cairo unfolds before you, with its monumental architecture, teeming populace, and thousands of years of rich history. The extraordinary tapestry of Cairo's past and present comes vividly to life in this magisterial study by André Raymond, arguably the premier social historian of the Arab world. The most deeply observed and historically nuanced account ever given of the greatest Arab city of northern Africa, this book shows us Cairo from the glimmer of its beginnings in the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 through its transformation into the modern center of Middle Eastern life today. Here are the Fatimids, the Mamluks, and the Ottomans, the invasions, dynastic changes, and religious conflicts that one after another altered and shaped Cairo's destiny. And here, alongside rulers and religious leaders, are the merchants and artisans who have given Cairene life its distinctive character over time. Raymond depicts life in Cairo through the centuries, chronicling the coming of European influence, the vagaries of social evolution, and the development of economic structure and urban design. His work reflects all facets of Cairo's historical and social reality, weaving commerce, politics, religion, and culture into a finely worked portrait of the foremost Arab city on the continent of Africa.
With its splendid illustrations and maps and its meticulous attention to the topography and archaeology of the city, this book will prove as valuable to the serious traveler as to observers of Middle Eastern history and society. It stands as the definitive work on Cairo, unparalleled in scope, depth, and detail.
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André Raymond was Director of the French Institute for Arab Studies, in Damascus, and of the Institute for Research and Study on the Arab and Islamic World, in Aix-en-Provence. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Provence and the author of numerous books, including The Great Arab Cities in the Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries: An Introduction.From Publishers Weekly:
Compared to many things Egyptian, Cairo, founded in A.D. 642, is relatively modern. Eminent French historian Raymond lucidly delineates how the city, intrinsically tied to Egypt's Islamic history (it was founded during the Arab conquest of this North African country), also reflects the multifaceted trends of modern Egyptian history and brings the city up-to-date in its transformation into the overcrowded, bustling, crumbling metropolis it is today. In the first of the book's four sections, Raymond focuses on archeological and architectural sources to show the ancient foundations upon which Cairo was built. Here and through most of the book the author offers a history less of people and daily life than of structures and space, of how buildings came to be erected. He maintains, for instance, that during the years 642-1250, Islamic leaders were generally tolerant of diverse religious communities, allowing synagogues and churches to be built. The book's two middle sections deal with medieval and traditional Cairo, while the last section, covering the years 1792 to 1992, offers a stimulating exploration of Egypt's contact with the rising powers of the West and the desperate attempt to catch up to the demands of Cairo's ever-growing population. Adeptly translated and equipped with fabulous maps of Cairo during each historic phase, this is a useful and reliable primer on the physical, economic and political history of an important and vibrant city. 63 b&w photos. (Jan. 15)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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