[Hessler's] absorbing account of the fallout from the Egyptian revolutions of 2011. It is an eclectic, beautifully written narrative that weaves a portrait of contemporary life in Egypt together with the complex strands of its pharaonic past, finding parallels between seemingly disparate ancient and modern worlds ... captures the post-revolution euphoria and then its aftermath ... Although at first it may seem unclear why Hessler tacks between the instability of contemporary Egypt and its ancient glories, he makes thoughtful connections between the authoritarian grandeur of the past and the chaos of today ... Especially moving are Hessler’s tales of the people he befriended during his five years in Egypt. Their experiences offer deeper insights into both the nature of power in Egyptian society and the resilience of individuals making do with a life of electricity blackouts, economic insecurity and the arbitrary violence of the state ... an ambitious book, and it delivers on all fronts. It’s equal parts travelogue, history and memoir from a writer with a gift for conveying the profound humanity of his subjects ... Hessler highlights with great poignancy the untapped human potential and the cleverness with which Egyptians navigate everyday life in the face of an often brutal authoritarian regime.
... [a] closely observed, touching and at times amusing chronicle...Drawing both from daily life and from interviews with highly placed political figures, the book is an extraordinary work of reportage, on a par with Anthony Shadid’s Night Draws Near (2005), which was itself built from tales of everyday Iraqis during the early days of the American occupation. Part of the power of these works surely comes from the simple but important fact that both reporters speak Arabic ... Sensitive and perceptive, Mr. Hessler is a superb literary archaeologist, one who handles what he sees with a bit of wonder that he gets to watch the history of this grand city unfold, one day at a time.
The book’s three-part outline ('The President,' 'The Coup,' 'The President') is deceptively simple ... Not everything from his New Yorker pieces makes it into the book, but much seems to ... In reading The Buried, which I admit is the kind of book I might have criticized in the past, I find myself changing my mind. What Hessler offers is something that no Egyptian could ever really write, and in that way, he adds alternate dimensions to a story, or the stories, of this place we call home, with all the good intentions of simply his own singular viewpoint and experience.
... both beautiful and heartbreaking ... Hessler has a genius for structuring a narrative. Here he has crafted a miraculously coherent arc out of several disparate themes: the political upheaval that accompanied the Arab Spring, the lives of a handful of ordinary Egyptians, and his own education in the language of contemporary Egypt and its ancient archaeology, to name just a few. One remarkable chapter weaves together the stories of a Jewish family fleeing Cairo in the 1950s and a gay Muslim fleeing the city today. It all comes together, but you have to read it to believe it. Every page is vivid and engaging, and each chapter packs in surprises ... The greatest contribution of The Buried to the shelf of English-language books on the Arab Spring is the intimately detailed depictions it provides of a handful of ordinary, politically disengaged Cairenes trying to steer their way through the chaos ... Hessler renders each of them with empathy, respect and affection ... Hessler’s digressions into Egyptology, however, feel much less natural ... and I question many of his generalizations ... It will be up to Egyptians to decide what went wrong and how they can fix it.
Like [Hessler's] terrific 2013 book...this one seamlessly blends memoir, history and energetic reporting. Hessler wisely focuses on working- and middle-class citizens. Their challenges often highlight the disappointments and inertia of the post-revolution years ... Hessler subtly juxtaposes examples of ancient ingenuity with the intractable problems of the modern world ... Although Egypt and America may never fully understand each other, reporters such as Hessler help narrow the gap. In The Buried, he’s crafted an edifying portrait of a nation that experienced a dramatic uprising—and hasn’t changed as much as many of its citizens had hoped.
Archaeology is the science of interpreting a distant past without being misled by one’s familiar present. Hessler... conveys the near-impossibility of this challenge ... Hessler’s inability to transcend his cultural biases and his condescending reduction of Egyptians in amusing anecdotes is grating, yet he has the self-awareness to recognize the West’s childlike romanticization of Egypt in himself and his Western colleagues.
... [a] long but economically written study ... Nuanced and deeply intelligent—a view of Egyptian politics that sometimes seems to look at everything but and that opens onto an endlessly complex place and people.
... at once engrossing and illuminating ... Adroitly combining the color and pacing of travel writing and investigative journalism with the tools and insight of anthropological fieldwork and political theory, this stakes a strong claim to being the definitive book to emerge from the Egyptian revolution.