Asmahan's Secrets: Woman, War, and Song
The great Arab singer Asmahan was the toast of Cairo song and cinema in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as World War II approached. She remained a figure of glamour and intrigue throughout her life and lives on today in legend as one of the shaping forces in the development of Egyptian popular culture. In this biography, author Sherifa Zuhur does a thorough study of the music and film of Asmahan and her historical setting. A Druze princess actually named Amal al-Atrash, Asmahan came from an important clan in the mountains of Syria but broke free from her traditional family background, left her husband, and became a public performer, a role frowned upon for women of the time. This unique biography of the controversial Asmahan focuses on her public as well as her private life. She was a much sought-after guest in the homes of Egypt's rich and famous, but she was also rumored to be an agent for the Allied forces during World War II. Through the story of Asmahan, the reader glimpses not only aspects of the cultural and political history of Egypt and Syria between the two world wars, but also the change in attitude in the Arab world toward women as public performers on stage. Life in wartime Cairo comes alive in this illustrated account of one of the great singers of the Arab world, a woman who played an important role in history. Sherifa Zuhur is Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
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17 August 22 July Abd al-Ghaffar Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad Rami Ahmad Salim al-Qrayya al-Shabab al-Sharif al-Taba'i Alia Allies Amal Amina apparendy Arabic music artist Asmahan Atrash audience Badr Khan beautiful began Beirut British Cairo career Catroux composed by Farid composition Damascus Danielson death divorce Druze Egypt Egyptian elite entertainment Fahd Fahd Ballan Farid al-Atrash female film Free French friends Fu'ad Gamal gender Gharam wa Intiqam Hassan Hassanayn honor Ibid Imta Imta hata'raf interview with Munir Intisar al-Shabab Jabal Jerusalem Kamilia Labib Lebanon litde maqam married Middle East Middle Eastern modern mother Munir al-Atrash musicians Muslim Nadia nationalist Ottoman performers period Personal interview political popular Qissat Asmahan singer singing sister social song Spears story Suhayr Sultan al-Atrash Suwayda Syria Syria and Lebanon tarab text by Ahmad theJabal tion told traditional Turshan Umm Kulthum Vichy vocal voice Wahid Western woman women young Zakariyya Ahmad Zuhur