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Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? Changes in Egyptian Society from 1950 to the Present Ill Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-9774245596
ISBN-10: 9774245598
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A rare example of combining social theory with concrete observation and intimate personal experience.... A very perceptive account of Egyptian social development with almost the impact of a dramatic creation." Abd al-Qader al-Qutt, al-Ahram, 2000.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Arabic
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press; Ill edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9774245598
  • ISBN-13: 978-9774245596
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.5 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This unbiased work provides a good overview of the societal changes that have occurred in Egypt during the last 50 years and the challenges that remain. It will prove particularly helpful for people who are planning to go to Egypt and/or deal with Egyptians on more than a superficial level, as well as for those who want to add some depth to their understanding of the Middle East generally. A good overview of a fascinating country.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The social history of Egypt in the Middle Ages was well documented by the legendary historian Al Maqrizi who wrote volumes of fascinating history of Egyptians, their rulers, classes and habits. In the last few hundred years starting with Edward Lane writing the social history of Egypt became dominated by the Orientalists who brought their own baggage and prejudices and often supremacist attitudes to the task. Few rare exceptions such as Cairo City Victorious defy the traditional orientalist narratives. (This can be observed from the review of the former colleague of Amin who essentially says this is just good enough for the natives if not in so many words.)

Galal Amin wrote a light hearted, mostly easy to read book about the massive changes that occurred in the Egyptian society since the 1952 military coup aka The Revolution. Amin attributes much of the change in Egypt's society to a massive expansion of the middle class started under Nasser but accelerated under Sadat with the Open Door policy and the massive demand for Egyptian workers (including unskilled and semiskilled) in the oil rich Arab countries.

Amin used a number of personal but very interesting yard sticks to track the changes in the society. He contrasted his university professor salary with that of the house servant. The gap narrowed significantly after 1952 and much more so after 1972 and started to widen again in recent years. Amin also addressed the role of women in the society and contrasted the changes from his mothers, to his sisters to his daughter. Remarkable change has occurred and Amin's admittedly non scientific findings correlate closely with those of Leila Ahmed (Women & Gender in Islam).
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Format: Paperback
Lots of personal observations and anecdotes on the generation gap of a grandfather professor in the 1980s looking back on how things are different from when he was a child, and whether those changes are good or not.
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If you want to know how egypt changed socially and economically in the last 50 years this is the book to start from. It offers an entertaining as well as deep, board look and what happened to Egypt and how it slowly transformed to what it became now. One of the great features of Galal Amin in this book is that he maintains strict neutrality, neither supporting and attacking a certain side or group, he simply tries to relay to the reader what happened giving the reader a chance to decide for himself whether what happened was bad or good. For us young Egyptians who want to understand what the older folks are talking about when they ramble about the good old days, this is a must read. Truely entertaining.
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Format: Paperback
Galal Amin, an economics Professor at the American University in Cairo provides an entertaining personal look at the evolution of 20th century Egyptian society from the somewhat privileged view of the upper middle class. Some aspects, though lagging us by a few years, are quite relatable to the American (and Canadian) experience - upward mobility, electrification and its enabling of consumerism, the invasion of American culture , cars for personal transportation, the emergence of women from the home and and loud hotel weddings where the guests can't hear each other, though unlike Amin's situation few of us have to contend with the attendance of former prime ministers.

Other aspects of the book are more distinctive of the 2nd world where both economic security and social advancement come through government jobs and enrollment in the army.

Particularly interesting was Amin's description of the costs of maintaining a servant vs the salary of a university professor - first his father and then himself. When he was young his parents would reach out through the family network and a girl as young as 10 years old would sent from the village. Society was highly polarized wrt to wealth with a wide base of 10 million who were very poor, 2 million middle class and maybe 100K at the top. The income disparity was 500:1 and the "servant" herself was essentially unpaid as the 20 piastre/month salary was given to her father who visited once every 6 months to a year. However in the 1990s the ration was 20:1 and the now older servant could afford her own home life.

Another interesting discussion centred around remittances sent home from Egyptians working in the Gulf.
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