Roots and Branches
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This is a brilliant and very personal expose of a life first bridging two national, social and language cultures, then absorbing what is best from a third culture, that which is scholarly and academic. It can be argued that this mix largely contributed to a vision and a universal language reflected in the author’s success as a doctor and surgeon of the highest quality.
Roots & Branches is amazing. I’ve been with it all weekend and can’t put it down. I’d personally recommend it to my students and friends. It’s made me care about these people and about history (my worst subject). What a childhood. At first, I worried that I would not care about an ordinary family, but they are far from ordinary.
What a fascinating and unique story! It’s wonderful to meet the various members of this determined and resilient family. Their saga unfolds through a series of deeply personal challenges as they navigate intercultural, inter-generational, and social divides. The author’s sometimes poignant reactions do not mask his bewilderment and pain when he relates how as a child, he dealt with repeated family disruptions. Many of his recollections remain uncomfortably sharp, while others evoke a wry amusement. He endured a whole string of culture shocks when he was serially uprooted from one society to another. This is a tale of resilience and success despite life’s many setbacks. What brings the story vividly into focus is the generous sprinkling of family and school photographs. A compelling and touching historic biographic memoir.
From the arid terrain surrounding the green Nile valley, to the unimaginable rubble of post-war Germany, to the vibrant hedonism of 1960s London, Michael Meguid’s life story unfolds in brilliant, relatable prose. He takes us on a journey to confront his emotionally repressed mother and demanding, absent father as he longs for a kind word, a hug, an affirmation of his worth. We meet his big-hearted German Oma, who cares for him as his mother selfishly walks away to pursue her own happiness.
I highly recommend the wonderful and inspiring book, Roots & Branches. The author shared letters and pictures that touched me deeply. The author tells of the love story between his parents who were from different cultures. I couldn’t put the book down.
Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel once wrote, “God made man because He loves stories.” And when a story is told by a master story- teller, we, His creatures are likewise enamored. ‘Roots and Branches’ is one such tale. Before we even finish the first chapter, a harrowing account of a near fatal heart attack in a cab stuck in a traffic jam in New York, we are hooked. We just ‘know’ that we are going to enjoy savoring every page, but simultaneously aware that the book is only 322 pages long.
In his dedication, Meguid writes, …..” to Victoria, who couldn’t have known her man for he didn’t know himself.” So perhaps, this biography was his attempt to find out who he was, and why and to invite his readers to join in his quest.
He introduces us to his father, an Egyptian, who was a brilliant scholar, warm and charming, but frequently absent and who died when Meguid was 12 years old. His mother, a German, was incapable of showing any affection which left deep emotional scars, while his older sister, furious about being usurped by her younger brother was jealous and hostile. “Roots and Branches’ moves from Egypt, where the young Meguid thrives in his Egyptian extended family, enjoying laughter-filled sumptuous Friday meals to war torn post-war Hamburg with his stern grandparents, where boiled turnips, cabbage and pork belly meals were eaten in silence. A few years later, Meguid is taken to cold rainy Manchester, then finally back to Cairo again. Throughout these years, he had to continuously adapt to different cultures, and witness major political events.
There are many delights in this amazing biography which I will leave to you to discover. However, what I find amazing about ‘Roots and Branches’ is despite all the challenges and heartaches that Meguid faced, his innate optimistic spirit and intelligence enabled him to rise above them.
And finally, what a wonderful gift Meguid has bequeathed his children, grandchildren, and more. I ended up feeling that I would have loved it if my father or mother had written a similar book. I would have liked to really ‘know’ them.