Sample
  • The Buried

  • An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution
  • By: Peter Hessler
  • Narrated by: Peter Hessler
  • Length: 16 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (290 ratings)

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The Buried

By: Peter Hessler
Narrated by: Peter Hessler
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Publisher's summary

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

"Extraordinary.... 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.” (Wall Street Journal)

From the acclaimed author of River Town and Oracle Bones, an intimate excavation of life in one of the world's oldest civilizations at a time of convulsive change

Drawn by a fascination with Egypt's rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo's neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.

In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna: "the Buried". He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter's translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt's homophobic culture. A different kind of friendship was formed with the neighborhood garbage collector, an illiterate but highly perceptive man named Sayyid, whose access to the trash of Cairo would be its own kind of archaeological excavation. Hessler also met a family of Chinese small-business owners in the lingerie trade; their view of the country proved a bracing counterpoint to the West's conventional wisdom.

Through the lives of these and other ordinary people in a time of tragedy and heartache, and through connections between contemporary Egypt and its ancient past, Hessler creates an astonishing portrait of a country and its people. What emerges is a book of uncompromising intelligence and humanity - the story of a land in which a weak state has collapsed but its underlying society remains in many ways painfully the same. A worthy successor to works like Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon and Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines, The Buried bids fair to be recognized as one of the great books of our time.

One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2019

©2019 Peter Hessler (P)2019 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2019

“Original, richly layered, and often delightful reporting. Hessler has a sharp sense of humor, a gift for observation, a healthy skepticism, and a knack for using memorable characters and anecdotes to demonstrate larger truths . . . . This is what reporting can be at its best: clear-eyed and empathetic, an addition to the historical record.” (New York Review of Books)

“Egypt’s tragedy has now found a non-fiction writer equal to the task in Peter Hessler . . . . What separates him from most other foreign correspondents is a strange alchemy in his writing and storytelling that gives him an ability to spin golden prose from everyday lived experience. . . . [The Buried] is filled with insight both about the cyclical nature of Egyptian politics and what is eternal and unchanging in this most ancient of countries, whose civilization goes back an astonishing, unbroken 7,000 years. The result is a small triumph, one of the best books yet written about the Arab spring.” (The Guardian)

The Buried is wonderfully impressive, not a conventional travel book at all, but the chronicle of a family's residence in Egypt, in a time of revolution - years of turmoil in this maddening place. And yet Peter Hessler remains unflustered as he learns the language, makes friends, puts up with annoyances (rats, water shortages, mendacity) and delves into the politics of the present and the ancient complexities. It is in all senses archeology - tenacious, revelatory, and humane.” (Paul Theroux)

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