This is an fascinating anthology of this city. Cairo is two distinctly different places: to western Europeans, it is the mysterious East, the city of a thousand minarets, of harems, sheiks, and mosques. To the people who live there, it is their crowded, thriving home, where each street is a neighborhood and a pattern of delicate social conventions regulates society. Both of these Cairo's are illuminated in this book. From the outside comes William Makepeace Thackaray on his unending and unsuccessful search for a harem; Beryl Markham on a drunken stopover in Cairo en route to Libya; and nineteenth-century traveler Alexander Kinglake's smug description of the city during a plague. From the inside comes Naguib Mahfouz's tale of transformation, "Blessed Night"; and Yehia Hakki's intriguing look into Cairo's marital mores, "An Empty Bed." These and other stories, essays, and letters provide a glimpse of both the Cairo of dreams and the Cairo of reality.