A welcome and carefully researched addition to the substantial literature on the Egyptian effendiyya, Lucie Ryzova’s Age of the Efendiyya explores the emergence of this group from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century as the “first self-consciously modern generation in Egyptian history” (4).1 Ryzova identifies her subjects as “the white-collar workers” who staffed the modern bureaucracy and pursued careers as lawyers, doctors, architects, teachers, and writers. At the same time, she defines the effendiyya not primarily in terms of class or education but rather in terms of orientation toward the modern: an effendi is “an Egyptian who actively claims to be modern” (8).

Arguing that previous scholars have not attended closely enough to the emergence of the effendiyya, Ryzova focuses on social origins as the “basic question of this book”: “Where did this generation of...

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