Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Egyptian Continuity and Revolutions

In about A.D. 2000 a Pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty showed a fellah's prudence by building a wall across the Sinai peninsula, which came to be known as 'The Prince's Wall'. According to New Kingdom scribes he hoped to 'prevent Asian plunderers from coming to water their flocks in the river Nile'. He failed. The Prince's Wall has vanished, but the Asian plunderers and their flocks, the Shepherd Kings, Saint Mark, the Prophet's horsemen, have left their imprint on Egypt. In vain did de Lesseps sunder the two continents with his canal, or Zionism raise a thicker wall than the Prince's between Beit-Hanun and Elath: the highway is still open, the interflow of life goes on.

The swing-bridges at Ferdan and El Kantara -- though so flimsy that a tanker once swept one away -- are enough to anchor Africa to Asia. The sand and stone of Sinaitic Egypt stretches to the east and green and brown Nilotic Egypt to the west. Two unsatisfied continents are linked by a single country, two-faced, porous, permeable, which explains the one to the other. Egypt forms the hinge between the two clamouring halves of the world. It is here that Africa's muddled and almost dumb misery meets the clear-sighted, struggling poverty of Asia.

India is more strongly installed at Suez, the black races more enduringly rooted at Aswan, than Europe is in Alexandria. For thirteen hundred years torrid Islam, swarming from Asia, has lived side by side with the gods of earth, water and death that ride the old Nile. A crude streak of brownish-grey mud of almost the same colour as the peasants it supports and feeds, Egypt lies across the long charred crescent that joins Senegal to the Punjab -- not cutting it, but deflecting it a little as thick glass refracts sunlight.

In Cairo the great lay and religious universities, the teeming prisons and the young Trades-Union movement are all silently

-11-

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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