Egypt in Transition

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

V
The Adventurous Khedive

The Suez Canal, which was the work of foreigners and for a long time both alien and loathsome in Egyptian eyes, came to complete Egypt's introduction to world strategy, commerce, diplomacy and thought. From 1869 onwards, even more than during the tense hours when Thiers was threatening Europe with a war to preserve the rights of the Pasha of Cairo, Egypt has been right in the centre of the struggle. This was not always to her advantage. The subsequent steps in her 'internationalization' -- the debt fund, the British occupation, the protectorate and the secession of the Sudan -- were too bitter for Egypt to resist the temptation of turning against everything that lay at the origin of her troubles. First of these was the Canal, which made Egyptian territory the object of fierce rivalries by opening it to the world.

We have seen that in 1834 Mohamed Ali, consulting his brainstrust of foreign engineers, was against Fournel's and Lambert's proposal to cut the 'two-seas canal'. He was afraid of creating a new Egyptian question by inventing a 'second Bosphorus'. He seemed to be reacting more like a suspicious Turk than a modern innovator. His son Sa'id and his grandson Isma'il were less prudent, seeing the canal as a means of slicing Egypt off the Ottoman Empire, a kind of furrow in which progress could be sown.

Egypt has reaped many benefits from the operation: a great increase in economic, diplomatic and strategic bargaining-power; the birth of two large cities and a province in the open desert; the receipt of large sums in the form of taxation. But the enterprise affected the Egyptian people still more directly. Less than perennial irrigation but nevertheless important, it made up a phase of the technical and spiritual revolution.

We have little evidence of the effect on the Egyptian mind, especially that of the younger generation of the late nineteenth century, which was produced by the success of de Lesseps and his engineers. But, as with the domestication of the Nile, this change in the map of

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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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