CAIRO: Biography of a City by James Aldridge

CAIRO: Biography of a City

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For a thousand years Cairo has risen and fallen under Muslim and Mameluke, Ottoman sultan and Napoleonic governor, British administrator and Arab despot. Mr. Aldridge, in this survey of the social, intellectual and political history of the city from its tenth-century foundation to the present, manages to convey much of the shading of those immensely variegated ten centuries of life to persuade the reader that this is, indeed, a ""biography"" rather than, as he says an ""amateur history."" Still, there is much of the amateur historian about Mr. Aldridge (who is, by trade, a novelist). He seems to enjoy arousing the reader's curiosity without satisfying it. He refers, for example, to a period in which ""cannibalism and economic catastrophe brutalized life in Cairo"", but then leaves the reader dangling with respect to explanations. In the same vein, he is often unclear (or at least the book is unclear) as to historical cause and effect. Still, the general reader will find here much of the spirit that animates the ancient city which, even now; ""every day lives a little more, and dies a little less."" Of the forty-five pages of black-and-white photographs, most are the ordinary views of Coptic churches and Muslim mosques but a few are of extraordinarily arresting street scenes,

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1969
Publisher: Little, Brown