Roger Owen Book Award

Nancy Y. Reynolds

Washington University in St. Louis

2013 Winner

Nancy Y. Reynolds

Nancy Y. Reynolds

This book is a study of common commercial goods and space that had a profound effect on politics and community in Egypt for the first half of the twentieth century. Based on a diverse array of sources which included British, French, and Egyptian archival sources; a large collection of magazines, newspapers, and films; and Egyptian economic and financial reports of the period under study, the work is an excellent study interweaving the economic and cultural histories of Egypt during that period.  Using wonderful illustrations ranging from advertisements for departments stores or new fashions to cartoons depicting the modern Egyptians and their consumerism, A City Consumed uncovers the social-economic and political-cultural transformation in the country. The book examines the Cairo Fire of January 1952 and charts the consumer culture by studying the history of Egypt’s department stores during the first six decades of the twentieth century. As Reynolds put it, “the Egyptians were both subjects and objects in the colonial drama,” and this book offers an important case study of consumerist politics of late colonialism.

A City Consumed shows that serious investigation of economic history and political economy are not only critical for our understanding national political and social fields, but can and should be integrated into the study of its cultural transformations as well. It also reinforces the idea that seriously researched books such as this can weave and present a well-written fascinating story for the reader by encompassing so many aspects of a country’s history.

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