A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 26, 2013

David S. Landes, 1924-2013

David Saul Landes
David S. Landes, who died August 17 at the age of 89, was one of the most distinguished economic historians this country has produced; he taught at Harvard from 1964 until his retirement in 1997 as both Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics. He may be best-known to the world at large as the author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, but to the Middle East Studies community, and particularly to those of us who are historians of Egypt, he will be remembered as the author of his only foray into our field, Bankers and Pashas: International Finance and Economic Imperialism in Egypt, a 1958 history of how European financiers and the Khedive Ismail's excesses steered Egypt towards economic dependency and ultimately British occupation, based on his discovery of a correspondence between a French banker and the Khedive's personal banker. Except for Bankers and Pashas, Landes had no real Middle East links other than a personal commitment to the State of Israel, but Bankers and Pashas remains an essential contribution to understanding 19th century Egypt and the origins of the colonial era.

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