Review Essay

An American in Cairo

Egypt Through Western Eyes

In This Review

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution
The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution
By Peter Hessler
Penguin Press, 2019, 480 pp. Purchase

Peter Hessler, the author of several award-winning books on China, spent late 2011 to 2016 in Egypt, reporting for The New Yorker. His new book, which collects and expands on his magazine essays, is destined to become the title that all first-time visitors to Egypt are urged to pack, slipped neatly between their guide to the Egyptian Museum and the itinerary of their Nile cruise.

Hessler is an extraordinary writer, and his Egypt is full of scoundrels turned heroes and heroes turned scoundrels. The book’s reach is wide, from the puzzles of ancient tombs to the preoccupations of contemporary marriage, and it offers beguiling stories about ordinary and extraordinary Egyptians alike: a garbage collector, a police officer, a devout woman who wears a niqab, a man who frequents illegal gay nightclubs, a small-town politician. Hessler weaves together rounded portraits of these and other characters, leavening their stories with endearing anecdotes, a

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