One of many reviews I wrote for an old livejournal account. Now archives here.
Cairo: The City Victorious
It is close by at first, starting with the intimate pock of the microphone and discreet , would not need to be all hearing to hear it. An electric cloud of sound accumulates and holds, suspended over the city for a full minute by the loudspeakers of some 15,000 mosques, before dissolving piecemeal into the twitter of the waking birds.
Cairo A City Victorious is a great book. In 267 pages it takes the reader from Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs up to the age of Mubarak. Its honest in its telling, reminding the reader that this is Cairo as seen by a westerner who speaks Arabic, and though the author has lived here for twenty something years, there are parts of the city he is unable to explain or even see. When I lived in Cairo I saw the things he talks about everywhere – the insane traffic, the mosques lit in green at night, the pyramids peaking out from behind the city high rises.
This was the first book I read about Cairo (actually on the plan on my way there) but it was a really great place to start to get an orientation on this city.