Drawn by a fascination with Egypt's rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. Not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring began, and the country was plunged into chaos. The Buried is an excavation of life in one of the world's oldest civilizations at a time of convulsive change.
...[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.
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.