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City of the Sun [Kindle Edition]

Juliana Maio
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Espionage, love, and power play upon the shifting sands of wartime Cairo

CAIRO, EGYPT 1941. As the Second World War rages, the city known as “Paris on the Nile” plays host to an international set who seem more interested in polo matches and swanky nightclubs than the Germans’ unrelenting advance across North Africa. Meanwhile, as refugees, soldiers, and spies stream into the city, the Nazis conspire with the emerging Muslim Brotherhood to fuel the Egyptian people’s seething resentment against their British overlords.

Ambitious American journalist Mickey Connolly has come to Cairo to report on the true state of the war. Facing expulsion by the British for not playing by their rules, he accepts a deal from the U.S. embassy that allows him to remain in the country. His covert mission: to infiltrate the city’s thriving Jewish community and locate a refugee nuclear scientist who could be key to America’s new weapons program. But Mickey is not the only one looking for the elusive scientist. A Nazi spy is also desperate to find him—and the race is on. Into this mix an enigmatic young woman appears, a refugee herself. Her fate becomes intertwined with Mickey’s, giving rise to a story of passion, entangled commitments, and half-truths.

Deftly blending the romantic noir of the classic film Casablanca with a riveting, suspenseful narrative and vivid historical detail, City of the Sun offers a stunning portrayal of a time and place that was not only pivotal for the war, but also sowed much of the turbulence in today’s Middle East.

Editorial Reviews


"The many historical figures lend authenticity, but it is Connolly and Levi's romantic entanglement that drives this satisfying exploration of a key time in western and Middle Eastern relations." --Publishers Weekly

"...A strong historical thriller that uses real persona and events to anchor a powerful storyline. Readers will feel they are in 1941 Cairo...  The romantic subplot adds hope and passion in the midst of strife. However, readers will relish the profound look at the early days of the Middle East dispute (interwoven into a superb drama) that still haunts the region and world decades after the end of WWII." - Midwest Book Review.

"...[Maio} writes with a strong sense of place. Her depiction of Cairo is full of color and longing, as she tells of the cosmopolitan lives of Egyptian Jews, and an era that is no more." - The Jewish Week

"Romance and characters' personal stories are as important as a political plot, which touches on the fate of the post-WW II world, in this thriller that holds readers' attention to the very end. Maio's research is excellent, and the background it provides for present-day events in the Middle East is fascinating. The novel unfolds at a pleasant pace, the characters are sympathetic and Maio effectively uses three viewpoints to tell her story." --RT Times, 4 stars

"War book aficionados will be pleased with this one. Even if you're not a military/history buff, this in-depth story is still one of the most interesting and thrilling reads imaginable... Driven by fascinating characters, this author weaves an amazing tale based on real historical figures...  Well done!" --Suspense Magazine

"An ambitious work set against the backdrop of real events, Juliana Maio’s City of the Sun provides a fascinating insight into the events that helped shape the forces at play in Egypt and the Middle East today. This book couldn't be more timely." --Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot

“Juliana Maio’s City of the Sun is a stunning work of historical fiction, capturing the romance, intrigue, and danger of Cairo in 1941. Against the backdrop of an increasingly threatened Jewish community in Egypt and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood—yes, the same one that keeps coming back to haunt that country—Maio magically transforms an almost genteel love story into a heart-stopping thriller.” --Andrew Nagorski, former Newsweek foreign correspondent and senior editor, and author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power

“What we don’t know about Cairo during World War II makes for an enthralling novel. Egyptian-born Juliana Maio knows this territory like the palm of her hand—which is where she holds us. City of the Sun weaves a tangled tale of espionage, wartime romance, political intrigue, and action in a city crawling with all four. If you liked Casablanca, this story is for you.” --Nicholas Meyer, New York Times bestselling author and Academy Award nominee for The Seven Percent Solution; screenwriter, The Human Stain

“This book fuses three of my greatest passions: drama, history, and the Jewish/Arab conflict. I was tremendously excited to discover City of the Sun—an engrossing, first-class historical drama. It's a goldmine!” --Richard Dreyfuss, Academy-Award winning actor and founder of the Imagining the Future Fund

“Juliana Maio's City of the Sun belongs in the ‘1 percent’ of new novels, not only because of the way she weaves suspense to keep you turning pages, but because she has married it all to a fascinating point in World War II history with descriptions of the Middle East that will have you swearing you've been there. The kind of book that turns non-readers into obsessive ones.” --Andrew Neiderman, author of The Devil's Advocate

“. . . A marvelous romantic spy thriller set in one of the most cosmopolitan yet exotic cities of its time—Cairo. . . [T]he novel is impeccably researched in both military matters and the details of day-to-day life, allowing us to meet as if in person characters who heretofore have appeared only in history books. A fantastic read from beginning to end—you won't be able to put it down!” --Professor Marianne Sanua Dalin, Florida Atlantic University, Department of History

“Juliana Maio artfully brings to life a very rich and crucial period in Egyptian history. Her scenes evoke intense emotions about the fragility of love and the cruelty of war, as well as the tragedies of religious persecution. Meticulously researched, this is a beautiful novel full of life that will stay with you long after you've read it. In her first foray into writing Maio proves that she has what it takes to be a great novelist.” --Alaa al Aswany, author of the international bestseller, The Yacoubian Building

About the Author


Product Details

  • File Size: 1825 KB
  • Print Length: 389 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group (March 9, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IX3FF2O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,139 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great historical novel March 12, 2014
For lovers of historical fiction, Juliana Maio's City of the Sun brings to life WWII set in Egypt. There are so many books and spy novels set in Germany, that its refreshing to see the same time period brought to life in a different, but equally important locale.

Set in Cairo in 1941, we meet aspring journalist Mickey Connelly. Mickey writes stories that he can't get anyone to publish or pay attention to. The British aren't happy with him and want to throw him out, but after a meeting with Bill Donovan, Mickey becomes a spy for the OSS, tasked with finding a Jewish scientist that the Americans want to help with the building of the bomb that will end the war.

At the same time, we meet the scientist's family, including his sister Maya. We follow the two story lines as Mickey and Maya meet. Maya's family wants nothing more than to get to Israel but can't get the approval from the British to do so; the American's want Maya's brother to come to America and help with the war effort, and of course there is a Nazi spy also tracking down the scientist for Germany's bomb program. Mickey and Maya fall in love, not realizing who the other really is. Where will it all end?

The book is well written, suspenseful, and full of twists and turns; a truly delectable debut novel
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-done Historical Romance March 12, 2014
“City of the Sun” is an interesting title for a story that touches on some of the darkest moments in Middle Eastern history during WWII. A multi-cultural romance plays out on the back drop of 1941 Cairo where the Germans are conquering their way through Africa toward the city, and many historical figures play out their roles to make this happen or not. The city’s Jewish community that thrives alongside Egypt’s Arab majority closes a blind eye to the fact that they are being sold out to the Germans so that the Arabs, lead by Sadat, can create a free Egypt or the Muslim Brotherhood can assume total control. At the same time the British and American’s want the scientists capable of creating an Atom Bomb that could stop Germany once and for all. One of these scientists has escaped to Cairo on his way to Palestine to join the budding Zionist movement there. Who’s going to get their hands on the scientist before he escapes from Cairo, The Nazi spy or the American journalist/spy? The romance heats up as the reader and the two spies when they realize the scientist is the brother of the American’s girlfriend. A well-done historical romance that focuses on the history of many of the issues Egypt faces today.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Historical Novel In a Novel Setting March 13, 2014
***** Originally Published On My LibraryThing Page *****
I am always grateful for the opportunity to review a book before the general public has the chance. I am even more pleased when the work turns out to be a book that will surely be discussed for quite a while and has the political relevance of Juliana Maio’s City of the Sun.

As with any good piece of historical fiction, there was a lot of research put into the background of the story and many historical figures are introduced. I was surprised to learn that there was once a thriving Jewish community in Egypt, a fact central to the story.

There is a little something here for everyone: it is a war story, it has a strong romantic element, it is historical fiction and it is an action / adventure / spy novel. Normally this is a recipe for disaster, trying to add too many ingredients, but City of the Sun succeeds in bringing it altogether in a cohesive fashion. The adventure flows, like the Nile, the dialog is believable and the major historical points are verifiable.

There is one flaw, however, that caused me a lot of grief in writing my review. One of the few incorrect details, at least as far as I know of, concerns a reference to a handgun, the Walther PPK. One of the main characters is given the gun to protect themselves and after receiving the gun, according to the narrative, he proceeds to open the cylinder to check to see if it is loaded, spin the cylinder and close the weapon. The Walther PPK is not a revolver, but rather it is a semiautomatic handgun and has a magazine in the handle as is typical of this class of handgun. While this is of no consequence as far as the plot goes, I found this unforgivable. That one flaw bothered me enough I can’t give the book full marks.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glamour and Espionage March 8, 2014
I requested this book from NetGalley because it is based on my two favorite reading topis -- the Middle East and Judaism. It is wartime Cairo, 1941. There is a mix of refugees, British soldiers, and spies in Cairo at this time. The Nazis are moving toward northern Africa. Hitler is becoming a bedfellow with the Muslim Brotherhood. Mickey Connolly is in Cairo to report on the current status of the war. However, he is secretly trying to get information on a refugee nuclear scientist (Eric Blumenthal). America wants to build the "big bomb" and Blumenthal could be the key to making that happen. The Nazis are also looking for him. There's romance when Connolly becomes involved with Maya, who unknown to him is Blumenthal's sister. Maio writes the story in such a way that I could easily visualize like in Cairo at that time. Most people are not aware of the intricacies of life in places like Cairo and Istanbul during this time period. There's the elaborate parties, the espionage, the sense of constant danger. Maio captured the atmosphere and made it real for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring history lesson
What an incredible and engaging way to shed light on an important aspect of WWII that receives little attention in America. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Samantha Samulis
5.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable
I and my book club really enjoyed this book
Published 9 days ago by Barbara C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice twist at the end
Well written short read. Nice twist at the end. Good to take on vacation.
Published 11 days ago by Izaya.O
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
'Beautifully written. The book had me engaged from the first page to the very last . Loved the characters, story, history, and ended up feeling nostalgia myself for this time and... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Avid reader
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 Stars +
This is a good story about Cairo during WWII, cosmopolitan and sophisticated. The writing gives a good feeling of place, the relationship/romance is nicely developed, and I... Read more
Published 1 month ago by L.
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
excellent book - to my surprise you'd think that when the war is only a 100 miles away, the atmosphere becomes more sober; but people continue to live as if there is no tomorrow -... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joe Aronson
4.0 out of 5 stars Do Mickey and Maya find true happiness
I really enjoyed the story. It combined history, mystery, romance and intrigue. It keeps you wondering is Mickey ever going to discover Maya's true identity. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Janet collins
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written and a wonderful clue toward the end of the story.
I enjoyed reading it.
Published 1 month ago by Pieter C. Brandse
4.0 out of 5 stars I am a voracious but selective reader. City of the Sun captured my...
I loved the book twice as much since it allowed me to find out about my second cousin Juliana Maio. We were also expelled from Egypt and ended up in Brazil instead of France to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by VMW
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting time. Helps explain the situations between religions in...
Interesting time. Helps explain the situations between religions in that area now.
Published 1 month ago by Monty Calvert
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More About the Author

Juliana Maio was born in Egypt but expelled from the country with her family during the Suez Crisis. She was raised in France and completed her higher education in the United States, receiving her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Juris Doctor degree from UC Hastings.

Juliana practices entertainment law in Los Angeles and has represented internationally renowned and multi-award winning filmmakers as well as a host of independent production companies. Prior to that she served as vice president of worldwide corporate and business affairs for Triumph Films, a joint venture between Columbia Pictures and Gaumont Films.

Juliana co-founded Lighthouse Productions, an independent film and television company. She has spoken both domestically and abroad about the Arab Spring. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, film producer Michael Phillips. They have a daughter.

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