A history of Egypt

A History Of Egypt“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.”  Robert Anson Heinlein

I have always enjoyed reading history books.  I probably read them more like a novel than a serious work of non fiction, first because I find it more entertaining that way, second because I don’t beleive everything I read.  Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have said “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon”.  That said I am currently reading a book called “A History of Egypt: From the Arab Conquest to the Present“.  I had recently come across a post which listed Egypt’s rulers from the beggining of time till the present.   The interesting point was that never have the Egyptian people chosen their own ruler, and that for most of history the rulers were foreigners (apparently nothing has changed much in Egypt).

An excerpt from the book;:

At first the Egyptians tended to look down on the less refined Arabs. Amr, a man of wit and discernment, allegedly decided to teach the Egyptians a lesson. He gave a three-day banquet, to which all were invited. On the first day he served camels as the main course, much to the disgust of the Egyptians who were accustomed to more delicate fare, but the Arabs fell to with hearty appetites. The next day he served the delicacies of Egypt, and his men wiped the boards clean with an equally voracious appetite. On the third day he had his soldiers parade in battle formation while he addressed the crowd: ‘The first day’s entertainment was to show you the plain food of the desert Arabs; the second was to show you that we can also appreciate the finer things in the conquered lands; the third day is to show you that we still retain our martial valour.’ The lesson was not lost on the Egyptians. Caliph Umar approved Amr’s finesse and commented that the art of warfare depended on wisdom as well as on the use of force.

The book is divided into seven parts:

  • The Arab conquest of Egypt to the end of the Ayyubi dynasty, 639–1250
  • The age of the mamluks, 1250–1516
  • The Ottoman age, 1516–1805
  • The beginning of the state system, 1805–1922
  • The liberal experiment, 1922–52
  • The Nasser years, 1952–70
  • From Sadat to Mubarak, 1970 to the present day

It is interesting, appears to be unbiased and is written simply yet is proof that history books can be just as entertaining as best selling novels.

2 Comments

  • At 2008.12.17 17:43, chika said:

    Your choice of books are interesting nevertheless, I would be caught dead before reading a history novel – book! I know they say we learn from our past (history in the general sense of it) but if we want to talk about Egypt in specific, I know for sure that previous rulers are turning in their graves over what’s happening over there. Utter chaos wallahy, poor people living there.

    • At 2008.12.17 20:05, jessyz said:

      It’s not a novel it’s total work of non fiction but it is a nice read in general. The thing is, I have mixed feelings about what is going on. We (the people) are to blame for some problems, the government some and the rest of the blame can fall on circumstance. But one thing is for sure the current mess is not much different from the past messes, it just has more media coverage.