Letters from Cairo is a vivid memoir of an American experience in Nasser’s Egypt, seen through the eyes of two visiting academics who navigate the epiphanies, adventures, and paradoxes of a country at a critical turning point.

On the eve of the Six-Day War, a young American woman writes from her desk in Cairo to her parents thousands of miles away in upstate New York. Over hundreds of letters, she relates the greatest adventure of her life, from the delights of molokhia soup, to camping under desert stars, the seasonal flooding of the Nile, and the cacophony of street vendors. Lurking below the surface are the tensions wrought by culture and politics: for Roberta as a smart, highly-educated biochemist thwarted by her male Egyptian peers, and for her husband Franz, a labor researcher at the American University in Cairo, whose interest in the Aswan High Dam involves one of the most consequential flashpoints of Nasser’s United Arab Republic. Letters from Cairo weaves the accounts, travels, and discoveries of Roberta and Franz with the broader social and political history of the era to tell the story of a country as rich as it is complex. This full-color facsimile edition includes over 100 letters and 75 historical photographs of Cairo, the Aswan basin, the Middle East, and North Africa, as well as an extensively-researched Foreword, Historical Timeline, and a multilingual transcription and English translation of its accompanying archival recording, “Sounds of Cairo.”


Dolp, Roberta. Letters from Cairo, ed. Laura Dolp. New York, NY: Stenen Press, 2021.