THE CAIRO DOCUMENTS: The Inside Story of Nasser and His Relationship with Worm Leaders, Rebels, and Statesmen by Mohamed Hassanein Heikal

THE CAIRO DOCUMENTS: The Inside Story of Nasser and His Relationship with Worm Leaders, Rebels, and Statesmen

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A highly entertaining and sometimes illuminating memoir of Nasser's dealings with other chiefs of state. Heikal, a confidential adviser to both Nasser and Sadat and influential in his own right as editor of Al Ahram, begins with recollections of an unprepossessing Dulles: Heikal says Nasser feared excessive American leverage if the U.S. built the Aswan Dam, knew by April 1956 that Dulles would revoke the offer, but made no overtures to the Russians until afterwards. Between Eden and Nasser there was ""elemental hatred"" (with big doses of cattiness on Heikal's part). He stresses Nasser's belief that Eden would never be foolish enough to alienate the Arabs by drawing Israel into the Suez attack. Khrushchev as usual provides amusing copy if no big revelations; Heikal underlines his fear of a blowup if the U.S.S.R. did anything about the American move into Lebanon. Despite Nasser's public attacks on Hammarskjold's role in the Congo, he privately supported him and they were, Heikal says, good friends. There is a frank series of letters between Nasser and JFK, and memories of Nasser's puzzlement at LBJ's effusions and indignation at his pro-Israel stand. Tito and Nehru were ""Porthos and Athos"" to Nasser; Chou-En-lai protested Egypt's ties with the Soviets. Nasser had long talks with Che Guevara and warned him against playing Tarzan in the African liberation movements; Nasser witnessed Che's despair over trying to sustain economic planning and saw ""a death wish"" in his desire to go back to ""real"" revolution. Needless to say there are tantalizing lacunae -- how did Nasser for instance patch things up between Hussein and Arafat? Part of the ""insider"" charm of the book is its references to spies and gossip: Arab nationalists were always getting wind of important conversations, e.g. between Dulles and King Saud. The style, as Edward Sheehan points out in his introduction, is not Heikal's customary rococo but informally journalistic. An anecdotal success.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday