11 books to read about the 1952 Revolution

Mohammed Saad , Thursday 23 Jul 2020

11 key academic and historical texts on the 23 July Revolution and Gamal Abdel-Nasser

July 23
An Egyptian army tank and field guns are drawn up in front of the royal Abdin Palace, in Cairo, on July 26, 1952. Appointed Premier Ali Maher Pasha issued an ultimatum to King Farouk I, forcing the Egyptian monarch to abdicate. (Photo: AP)

Sixty-eight years ago, the 1952 Revolution ousted King Farouk. The event is widely known as the 23 July Revolution and its effects on the Egypt’s history are still a matter of debate in both academic circles and in public opinion.

Hundreds of books and articles have been produced on the topic and on the man who became synonymous with the revolution, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who led the Free Officers and became president in 1956.

Ahram Online lists the best 11 books on 1952 and Nasser, based on the recommendations of Ahram Online Books editor historian Mohammed Afifi and history researcher and chief editor of Al-Qahira newspaper Sayed Mahmoud.

1. Nasser by Sir Anthony Nutting, 1972

Written by the British diplomat who negotiated the final steps of the Anglo-Egyptian treaty with Nasser, under which British troops withdrew from Suez. His book on the president is widely deemed one of the best biographies in English on Nasser. The book was translated into Arabic by Madbouli Library in Cairo in 1993.

Published in London by Constable. 493pp.

2. The Cairo Documents: The Inside Story of Nasser and His Relationship with World Leaders, Rebels, and Statesmen by Mohammed Hassanein Heikal, 1972

Heikal is one of Egypt’s most well-known journalists. He was a close friend of Nasser, helped him to articulate his thoughts and wrote some of his speeches.

Published in London by Doubleday & Company Inc. 360pp.

3. Nidaa Al-Shaab (The Call of the People: A Critical History of the Nasserite Ideology) by Sherif Younis, 2012

Younis, a history professor at Helwan Univeristy, presents a critical history of Nasserite ideology, reading thousands of documents, lectures, and speeches that were produced during Nasser's era.

Published in Cairo by Dar El-Shorouk.

4. Nasser: A Biography by Jean Lacouture, trans. by Daniel Hofstadter, 1974

French journalist and author Lacouture worked as a reporter in Cairo in 1953.

Published in New York by Alfred A . Knopf. 429pp

5. Egypt: Military Society; The Army Regime, the Left, and Social Change Under Nasser by Anwar Abdel-Malek, 1968

This seminal book by Egyptian thinker Abdel-Malek studies the dynamics of the Egyptian society, which is ruled by the military and by economic technocrats. He revises notions such as nationalism and pan-Arabism. The book was published in French as Égypte, société militaire in 1962 and subsequently translated into English and Arabic. The Arabic version is published under the title Al-Mogtamaa Al-Masry wa Al-Gaish ("The Egyptian Society and the Army") by the General Egyptian Book Organisation.

Published by New York: Random House. 458pp.

6. Al-Demoqratia wa Nizam 23 Yulyu (Democracy and the 23 July Regime) by Tariq El-Bishri, 1991

El-Bishri, a judge, tries to draw a detailed picture of the 23 July regime, the role of army in politics and the judiciary. The book is now only available in Arabic in PDF form.

Published in Cairo by Dal El-Helal. 492pp.

7. Aqniaat Al-Nassiriya Assabaa (The Seven Masks of Nasserism: Discussing Heikal and Tawfik Al-Hakim) by Louis Awad, 1976

Late writer Awad discusses the six principals of the 23 July Revolution, and adds a seventh principal that he says was not declared. The discussion also explores the ideas of Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, who promoted Nasser, and writer and novelist Tawfik Al-Hakim, who opposed the July Revolution.

Published in Cairo by Madbouli. 204pp.

8. Gamal Abdel-Nasser Al-Awraq Al-Khassa, (Gamal Abdel-Nasser: the Personal Papers) by Tahia Abdel-Nasser, 2015

This book, published this year by the General Egyptian Book Organisation contains the personal papers of Nasser, released by his family.

Published in Cairo. 3 vols.

9. Alan Atakalam (Now I Speak: Memoires of Khaled Mohieddin) by Khaled Mohieddin, 1992

Mohieddin, one of the free officers who launched the 1952 Revolution, held important roles under Nasser before he began to disagree with him. He was later marginalised by president Anwar El-Sadat until he founded Hezb El-Tagammu (the Union Party) in 1976.

The book was translated into English under the title Memories of a Revolution: Egypt 1952 in 1995 by the American University in Cairo Press.

Published in Cairo by Al-Ahram Publishing. 352pp.

10. Kont Raiisan Li Misr (I was a President of Egypt) by Mohamed Naguib, 1984

Naguib became president immediately after the 1952 Revolution, but was removed by Nasser a few months after he took office and placed under house arrest. His memoirs are an important account of the period.

Published in Cairo by Al-Maktab Al-Masry Al-Hadith. 420pp.

11 - Thawrat Yulyu (July Revolution: The Positive and the Negative, 50 years on) by Raouf Abbas, 2003

The book offers a balanced view of the July 1952 Revolution 50 years after it had happened, relying on official documents, memos, and memoirs of those who participated in the making of the revolution. The author is a very esteemed Egyptian historian. He headed the history department at Cairo University.

Published in Cairoby Kitab Al-Hilal. 259pp.

*This article was originally published on 24 July, 2015 and updated on 23 July 2020 


*This article was originally published on 24 July, 2015 and updated on 23 July, 2020

Short link: