Cairo in the War
By Artemis Cooper
A history of the glamorous and military critical city of Cairo during the Second World War
For troops in the desert, Cairo meant fleshpots or brass hats. For well-connected officers, it meant polo at the Gezira Club and drinks at Shepheard's. For the irregular warriors, Cairo was a city to throw legendary parties before the next mission behind enemy lines. For countless refugees, it was a stopping place in the long struggle home.
The political scene was dominated by the British Ambassador Sir Miles Lampson. In February 1942 he surrounded the Abdin Palace with tanks and attempted to depose King Farouk. Five months later it looked as if the British would be thrown out of Egypt for good. Rommel's forces were only sixty miles from Alexandria - but the Germans were pushed back and Cairo life went on.
Meanwhile, in the Egyptian Army, a handful of young officers were thinking dangerous thoughts.
Artemis Cooper is the author of Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, Cairo in the War, 1939-1945 and Writing at the Kitchen Table, the authorized biography of Elizabeth David. With her husband Antony Beevor she wrote Paris After the Liberation, 1945-1949. She has edited two collections of letters and Words of Mercury, a collection of pieces by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
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- Publication date:
24 Oct 2013
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'As hard to put down as good fiction. The research is wide, detailed and scrupulous. It is hard to think, on finishing, how this demanding book could have been handled better, more lucidly or more entertaining' — Patrick Leigh Fermor, Times Literary Supplement
'This informative and enjoyable book puts political history side-by-side with the personal sub-history of the characters who determined it . . . a mine of entertaining anecdotes' — Rana Kabbani, Observer
'What lifts it out of the ordinary is the sparkle of the writing and its command of the background' — P. H. Newby, Sunday Telegraph
'Much more than a lively and amusing social history. With enormous skill she has shaped it into a gripping account of the progress of the war itself and of the fortunes of its major protagonists. The result is bracing and salutary and very readable indeed' — Charles Allen, Sunday Times