Review of Hellyer’s Trip by Dr Georg Stauth
Looking into the Egyptian landscape of the mid nineteen sixties with the eyes of one of the few left who know what it was like then, I come, too biased perhaps, to the conclusion that this is a very well observed description of a British secret agent’s adventures in Alexandria.
We enjoy a welcoming insight into the world of the very global ‘masters of diplomacy’. For Nick Hellyer all went well to build an accidental east-west double spy existence in the tense situation in Abdel-Nasser’s 1967 pre-war socialist Egypt.
It is a delightful scenario with many affairs, events, and plots between Alexandria Consulate and Cairo Embassy land; and many short but marvellous descriptions of Nile Delta and Western desert landscapes, waters, harbours and ships and people, eating, drinks.
Nick’s real identity in matters of espionage is revealed to the Egyptian security, most notably to cruel Abdul, the fiance of Leila, with whom Nick maintained a love affair. This is where I personally felt a bit betrayed for my joy with the book so far, the last thirty pages or so were for my taste too much dominated by the unpleasant themes of torture.
All in all, I had a very pleasant reading over two and a half days, transported by a great form of language at all stages of the novel, even in the very dark parts, with local Arabic vernacular jumping into diplomatic and less diplomatic exchanges.
I should not stop praising this extremely exciting novel of Philip Prowse – who at the time was certainly there. Not just another espionage story from 1960s but on a topic with increasing actuality.
Dr Georg Stauth (born 28 August 1942) is a German sociologist of Islam. His first employment as a full academic was at Alexandria University, Egypt, 1969 to 1971.