A somber, disturbing picture of present-day Egypt emerges from this sensitively told account of his stay there by novelist and sometime New Yorker travel writer Hans Koning. He found the peasant masses desperately poor, their lot little changed by the regimes of Nasser and Sadat despite talk of socialism. He is obviously appalled by his encounters in Cairo with the Mercedes-driving upper crust and the bought-off intellectuals and civil servants. Whether he is visiting the Aswan High Dam, the Suez Canal or the Great Pyramids, he responds as a man of wide education and culture who hasn't forgotten his humanity. ""I cannot write about minarets and desert car rides and villages at sunset, I cannot write about Egypt, without talking about agriculture. It's the peasants who keep things going, and things are kept going through them but without them."" His Egypt sticks in the mind, harshly, hauntingly.