One of Egypt's best known geologists, Rushdi Said was, under President Gamal Abd al-Nasser, an important official and head of the national mining organization, which was responsible for surveying the Egyptian deserts for mineral deposits.
His personal memoir throws fascinating light not only on the geological surveys and mining projects of the time but on Nasser's policy of industrialization–of which Said was an enthusiastic supporter–and the effect on that industrialization of President Sadat's Open Door Policy, which Said sees as a direct outgrowth of the acute financial crisis brought on by the 1973 October War. Said is critical of Sadat's decision to prioritize tourism and the service industries at the expense of manufacturing industry, and relates how this, together with increasing corruption from the mid-1970s onward, forced him to resign. The culmination of the crisis came in 1981, when, just weeks before his assassination, Sadat ordered the arrest of Said and some 1,500 other public, religious, and political figures.
As a man trusted and respected by Nasser, Said is in a privileged position to give an eyewitness account of many important aspects of Egypt's recent history, but his own history–his family, education, growing self-awareness as a Copt, and wider concerns about Copts in Egyptian society–is also revealing and insightful. A personal reflection on a life lived and a source of recent history, this book will be of interest to political and economic historians and to anyone interested in what it was like to live through Egypt's recent past.
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