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Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

6th of October Bridge from the East bank of the Nile River to Gezira island in central Cairo, Egypt.
Modern day tale of espionage in North Africa. Good story, though the reason for someone turning traitor was a bit thin. To be fair, stealing secret documents was not presented as treason, it was implied that they were helping out some freedom fighters. Of course, it was all lies, but we get to the truth eventually.
    The story oscillates between the recent revolt in Libya that deposed Colonel Gaddafi and some events that happened to our heroes 25 years ago when the war in the Balkans was heating up. It gets a little confusing sometimes. You just have to keep the two time lines straight.
    Since we go to the Balkans, we get some history of the place and it's pretty grim. Nobody hates you like your neighbors hate you. It's got to be like a disease. I don't know what causes it, we don't seem to have the same trouble in the U.S. I suppose they learn it in kindergarten and polish it until they are big enough to make real trouble.
    As I was reading, I made some notes. When I was done I collated the information in a spreadsheet and plotted the places on a Google Map. Follow the links in the spreadsheet if you want to know more.

Note about the picture: I wanted a picture of the 15th of May Bridge as it gets mentioned a couple of times in the story, but I couldn't find one. Found several that purported to be the 15th of May Bridge, like this one, but were not. The 15th of May Bridge is downstream about a kilometer from this one. Good quality pictures were also a little difficult to find, that's why we have a skyscraper in the center of the picture.
    The 15th of May Bridge was named for the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which is known in Arabic as the Catastrophe. The 6th of October Bridge was named for the start of the 1973 Yom Kipper War, which ended with a ceasefire. Egypt got their butt kicked, but like the Klingons, they declared victory and went home.

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