THE MODERN HISTORY of Egypt can be said to have begun with the opening of the Suez Canal in November 1869. The canal, largely the creation of the Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps (who would later attempt the first Panama Canal), opened Egypt to much new investment in the commercial waterway and its related industries. The canal, for example, would be the shortest maritime route between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean beyond. Indeed, the canal was built during a period of progressive thought in Egypt, as the ruling Khedive Ismail attempted to bring Egypt out of the years of back-wardness caused by the rule of the Ottoman Empire. However, ironically, Ismail's dreams of modernization were thwarted by their ...

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