Every great city deserves a book like this one: a sweeping chronicle by an author whose motives mix passion and bewilderment. Over the course of four and a half millennia, Cairo has eluded all who would try to pin it down, reinventing itself time and again: "It has survived countless invasions, booms and busts, famines, plagues, and calamities." Author Max Rodenbeck, a correspondent for the Economist
, moved to Cairo as a 2 year old, and has spent a good portion of his professional life working there. He finds himself repulsed by the crowds and pollution of a late 20th-century megacity, yet drawn by Cairo's ageless vibrancy. Cairo: The City Victorious
combines wide-ranging history and first-person travelogue in an unconventional narrative that bounces easily from the present to the past and back again. ("If the story were to loop and tangle and digress," he writes, "well, that too would be in the character of Cairo.") Immersed in Rodenbeck's prose, readers will find themselves feeling at home as they discover (or rediscover) this unique place, its pyramids, and its people. --John J. Miller
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"An enormously entertaining read.... Rodenbeck's lively and affectionate portrait...veers easily between past and present, personal and historical." --The Washington Post Book World
"A book to read: one that will easily fit in your carry-on bag, and should greatly enhance any vacation or business trip to Cairo, short or long." --The New York Times Book Review
"Rodenbeck unwinds Cairo's tale with witty, clear-eyed affection. He has a lightness of touch and erudition, a skill with anecdote, that recreates Egypt--for all Egypt's roads lead to Cairo--in all its contradictoriness." --The Economist