Port Said Revisited
by Sylvia Modelski, Faros 2000, Washington, DC, 2000

Pupils at the English School came from many countries and had various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The large majority of the pupils were British subjects and so was Sylvia Modelski. Her grandparents came to Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from different parts of the Ottoman Empire. Her father had a department store in Port Said and the family was a member of the Jewish community of Port Said, which around the 1930's numbered in the hundreds. Sylvia spent the first fourteen years of her life in Port Said, then moved to Cairo at the beginning of the Second World War. In Port Said, she attended the Lycée Français, and in Cairo, The English School. She later left Egypt for England, then Australia and finally settled in the USA. Sylvia returned to Egypt twice, visiting Port Said first in 1966 and again in 1981. She found that the Port Said she had known had been transformed into a completely different town. She was fond of her old Port Said and felt that it should not be forgotten. This book is her commemoration of the town she once knew.

Port Said Revisited is about life in Port Said in the 1930's as viewed and experienced by a young girl. Sylvia describes the Jewish community which she was part of and their habits, life at the French school, the holidays and annual celebrations, the town itself, the various ethnic communities, and her contact with the Egyptians. Sylvia describes events clearly and in detail making it very enjoyable to read her book. Her review of events leading to the construction of the Suez Canal and her investigation of the role played by the region close to Port Said during the past three thousand years enhance the central theme of the book considerably. Overall, the book is very informative, well written and I feel achieves the purpose Sylvia intended to attain. Congratulations to Sylvia and I recommend this book to all OB's and OG's.

                                                                                                     Mohamed Hamza

Sylvia Modelski (Cohen) is an independent writer and translator. She received a B.Sc. (Econ.) degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1950 and did graduate work in French literature at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is now retired and lives in Washington D.C. Sylvia attended the ESC reunion held in October 1999 in Washington D.C.


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