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Cairo: The City Victorious
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Cairo: The City Victorious

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  198 ratings  ·  33 reviews
From a noted journalist who has spent much of his life in Cairo, here is a dazzling cultural excavation of that most ancient, colorful, and multifaceted of cities. The seat of pharaohs and sultans, the prize of conquerors from Alexander to Saladin to Napoleon, Cairo--nicknamed "the Victorious"--has never ceased reinventing herself.

With intimate knowlege, humor, and affecti...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 22nd 2000 by Vintage (first published September 18th 1998)
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Arwa
No book has fully captured the essence and spirit of Cairo the way this book did. Written with thorough research and an awe inspiring eye for detail that could only come from an insider, this book is a testimony to the author's unsurpassed experience with the city, its history, its people, and his overriding passion for the place. As a Cairene myself, I have to say my eyebrows were raised more than once at the astonishing detail I thought few people could convey with such command, I caught mysel...more
Lucynell
Had this been a history book on, say, Cadbury's Creme Egg then maybe its often frustrating narrative would not matter all that much. But this being a book on one of the most important and ancient hubs of civilization in human history it does matter.
Admittedly, the writer states that he is after a fusion of history and descriptive travelogue and furthermore that ''...the writing would be difficult, but, if the story were to loop and tangle and digress, well, that too would be in the character of...more
Sean
It is close by at first, starting with the intimate pock of the microphone and discreet , would not need to eb 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...more
Kristen
A well-written, well-paced history/travelogue of Cairo from a man who has spent the better part of his life there. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is traveling in Egypt -- it's a great read while you're there, experiencing all the things he's talking about. It definitely enriches your experience.
Raslan
I came across this title while reading comments posted by an expat about living and working in Egypt. Her positive remarks of the work prompted me, as an Egyptian, to buy the book the very next day.

Armed with this and other positive reviews I read, I delved into this unique volume.I couldn't help but admire the sheer magnitude of both time and effort invested in its making. This not only confirms the prevailing theme of the book about the global allure of this timeless city despite periods of d...more
Zach
Rodenbeck's book makes me want to return to the streets of Cairo for a second time in the hopes of being able to soak up more of the history of this incredible city. Cairo: The City Victorious can be divided into a historical aspect and a shorter experience aspect, but both flow around each other in no particular order and are constantly reinforcing each other - much like the city itself.

This book sometimes reads like a textbook, but without the boredom. I learned more about the Pharonic period,...more
Sarah
This is by far the most interesting book I have read about Egypt, written by a westerner who has lived most of his life in Cairo and brings an appreciation for a difficult, turbulent, challenging city and people. I started it as I was visiting Cairo, and really regret that I didn't read it before my trip, so I could approach the city with Rodenbeck's observations in mind. It's a mixed genre. He takes a scholarly approach to the thousands of years and multitude of eras in this city's history. But...more
'Aussie Rick'



Having visited this City some years back this book brought back snapshot memories of the street kids begging and selling all sorts of things each time you stopped. The crushing crowds at the Museum and the amount of traffic and the noise and smell of a truly vibrant city. The book made me realise how much I did not see and understand.

The author, Max Rodenbeck, tells a remarkable and fascinating story of this cities history, how and why it has become what it is now. The author flicks back and fo...more
Michael
From my twin review of this book and Mary Anne Weaver's "A PORTRAIT OF EGYPT A Journey Through the World of Militant Islam":

"Cairo: The City Victorious" is a quirky paean to one of the world's great crossroads. Max Rodenbeck has excavated myriad historical tidbits, such as the waqf, which exploited a loophole in Islamic inheritance law. Individuals couldn't receive bequests, but they could be hired to administer bequeathed endowments, thereby allowing control of the assets handed down. The pract...more
Mark
This is probably the best singe overview of Cairo, the mother of the world, whose name in Arabic (al qahira) literally means "victorious" Rodenbeck, who writes for the Economist and has lived in Cairo on and off for his entire life, paints a broad canvas—from ancient Egyptian Memphis, through the foreign occupiers (Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mamelukes, Ottoman Turks, French and finally the English), to the modern, grubby, dusty and charming city full of inequity and contradictions that Cairo is toda...more
Lokela
Exceptionally well-written and detailed historical survey of a complex city. Rodenbeck makes Cairo's bewildering present understandable in the context of its past centuries, and rather than dryly concentrating on dynasties and battles, he brings the streets of Cairo to life through the eyes of its residents and visitors throughout history, from Herodotus to Ibn Khaldun to Edward Lane. I was surprised by how much his descriptions of daily life in the Cairo of yesteryear accords with what I experi...more
Riet
Een heel interessante geschiedenis van de stad Cairo. Ik heb al een aardig rijtje boeken , die de geschiedenis van een bepaalde stad behandelen. Na de laatste ontwikkelingen in de Arabische werld is dit boek een mooie aanvulling. Het speelt maar tot 1990 (ongeveer), maar aan het eind wordt wel duidelijk, waarom de gebeurtenissen van de laatste tijd onvermijdelijk waren. De schrijver heeft gewoond en gewerkt in Cairo en spreekt Arabisch. Dat merk je, als je het boek leest.
Harmonybeau
This brilliant story of Cairo is neither a history nor a travelog but something in between. Rodenbeck brilliantly weaves together history with personal observations of Cairo, her sights, and her people. The book gives a great background for anyone planning to travel to Cairo and will leave you wanting to go even more! Even if you aren't planning on traveling to Cairo, this book offers a unique, candid, and somewhat romantic view of Al-Qahira - The City Victorious.
Mary Ellen
Very Excited to read this book. It looked great but in the end it hasn't kept my attention. I need characters to love to be drawn in by and to care about. I guess that means I am not much of a scholar (who knew! Ha Ha!) I doubt I'll ever really finish it. Plus I feel that it focuses on the wrong things. Guess I should write my own book about Cairo and focus on what I think should be focused on.
Annie
straight-up MUST if you ever intend to live in or even visit this CITY VICTORIOUS. It reads so easily and somehow Rodenbeck manages to teach you a thing or two about Mamluk torture practices and Fatimid burials. If you love Cairo, you'll love it, and if you're disillusioned with Cairo, you'll gain a re-appreciation for this magical place (if you hate Cairo, then GTFO).
Harvey
Cairo: The City Victorious -(Qahra - Al Nasser) is BRILLIANT!!! Rodenbeck really knows and loves Cairo, he combines history with the present, it is anecdotal yet he does not stint on scholarship. 10 out of 10!
One review said that every great city deserves a book like this and I agree.
Angela McCallum
Jun 26, 2007 Angela McCallum rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: travel, egypt
This is my favorite book about the city of Cairo. I read it during my first year there. Back then, I didn't really understand Cairo's intrigue. The City Victorious brought Cairo's history to life. Unlike so many other novels about a city, it was honest and completely enthralling.
Zora O'Neill
Changed my outlook on Cairo significantly, which is saying a lot. Not that I hated the place, but I was too caught up in the small hassles to appreciate the big picture, which Rodenbeck depicts so well, in caring detail.
Alicia
As I live in Cairo, I found the book fascinating. Rodenbeck truly has insight into this city victorious, and sometimes not so victorious. Pretty much everything Rodenbeck writes about Egypt is very good.
Asiah
Nice stories, sure. And good detail. But more linear storytelling would have made it less confusing. I only made it halfway through. Still looking for a good book on Cairo.
Mary Lou
NOT READ. I really enjoyed the first page & then slogged through just short of 40 more, but it’s serious history, definitely not for me, even if I did spend some time in Cairo.
Jason G
Gives a great perspective regarding the instability and, at the same time, the resilience of a great, old, big city. I skipped some, but read most of it.
Franz
I thought this book was excellent. It gave a great background on the history from ancient to modern times of Cairo, the most populous city in the Arab world.
Kate
This history of Cairo is thorough, detailed and interesting. At times Rodenbeck is overly florid, however since Cairo itself is often florid, it works out.
Lucy
A great history of al-Qahira, although I couldn't help but realize that his experiences in Cairo are totally different from mine (as a woman).
Sean
A short, fascinating history of Cairo's thousand year history as a city, plus a good bit about what came before.
Paul
Very good history of a constantly evolving city and people - a must read if you plan to visit Cairo.
Kristin
A wonderful combintation of history and travelouge! Cairo in all her grit and glory- loved it.
Tiny
Easily the best history of Cairo (and Egypt) ever written. Great mix of history and stories.
Mahmoud Wagih
Lived in Cairo for 30 years but never saw it this way till I read this book.Ace
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