Alexandria: City of Memory

by Michael Haag

Yale University Press, London and New Haven,

also The American University in Cairo Press

Cairo and New York 2004

Greek edition of

Alexandria: City of Memory

Oceanida Publishing

Athens 2005

      The Templars:

      History and Myth

      by Michael Haag

       Profile Publishing


       hardback 2008

       paperback 2009

       ebook 2010



Vintage Alexandria:

Photographs of the City 1860-1960

by Michael Haag

The American University in Cairo Press

Cairo and New York 2008

Michael Haag is a writer and historian who lives in London, England.  His books are published by Yale University Press, Profile Books, Harper Collins, The American University in Cairo Press, and others.

'In his new book, Michael Haag mixes memory and biography, politics and cultural studies in clear and seamless prose.'

        —Amos Elon, New York Review of Books

'This is full of intrigue and incident, and sparkles with countless delightful details.'

            —S.B Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

'A fine and deft interweaving of the personal and the political.'

          —Michael Glover, The Financial Times

'A brilliant portrait not only of Alexandria, but also of an international city. Ending this haunting book, some readers may want to re-read it at once.'

             —Philip Mansel, The Guardian

'Haag’s Alexandria goes further than any book I know to animate the world these people lived and loved'

          — Anthony Sattin, The Sunday Times


'Here at long last is a history of the Knights Templar - and their secrets - that you can believe in.'

                                       - The Scotsman

'Michael Haag, in his well-knit narrative, gets through an enormous spread of history, helpfully telling readers what the Bible has to say about the Jewish Temple before running through the Roman, Muslim and Crusader centuries. The after-history of the Templars is dominated by the imaginings of Freemasons and the conspiracy fancies of scarcely distinct alternative historians and novelists.'

                                      - Daily Telegraph

This is the first history of the Templars since the  sensational discovery in the Vatican Secret Archives of the Chinon parchment that clears them of heresy. An order of warrior monks founded after the First Crusade to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem, the Templars developed into one of the wealthiest and most powerful bodies in the medieval world. Yet two centuries later, the Knights were suddenly arrested and accused of blasphemy, heresy and orgies, their order was abolished, and their leaders burnt at the stake. The dramatic end of the Templars shocked their contemporaries and has gripped peoples' imaginations ever since. This new book covers the whole swathe of Templar myth and history, from its origins in the mysteries of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem through to the nineteenth century development of the Freemasons. The book also features a guide to Templar castles and sites, and coverage of the Templars in books, movies and popular culture.

Using vintage photographs from the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, many from private family albums, this book brings to life the world of a vanished Alexandria, that vibrant, stylish and cosmopolitan city that was the prosperous gateway between Egypt and the world.  Seen here in the setting of their homes and gardens, at their schools and workplaces, and on the city’s streets and beaches, are the faces of those forgotten Alexandrians, the Greeks, Italians, Jews and all the others from around the Mediterranean and from Egypt itself, whose energy and expertise helped modernise and develop the country.  This was the luxuriant and evocative city celebrated by Constantine Cavafy, E M Forster and Lawrence Durrell, and they too are included in these pages along with photographs of scenes and people that were familiar to them.  Vintage Alexandria traces the development and growth of the city, follows its story through the dramatic events of two world wars, and above all shows you the city through the eyes of the Alexandrians themselves.

This photograph from Vintage Alexandria shows Eve Cohen at the Scottish Girls School, Alexandria.  Eve later became Lawrence Durrell's second wife and a model for Justine in the Alexandria Quartet.


This book is a literary, social and political portrait of Alexandria at a high point of its history. Drawing on diaries, letters and interviews, Michael Haag recovers the lost life of the city, its cosmopolitan inhabitants and its literary characters.

Located on the coast of Africa yet rich in historical associations with Western civilisation, Alexandria was home to an exotic variety of people whose cosmopolitan families had long been rooted in the commerce and the culture of the entire Mediterranean world.

Alexandria famously excited the imaginations of writers, and this book folds intimate accounts of E. M. Forster, Greek poet Constantine Cavafy and Lawrence Durrell into the story of its inhabitants. It recounts the city’s experience of the two world wars and explores the communities that gave Alexandria its unique flavour: the Greek, the Italian and the Jewish. The book deftly harnesses the sexual and emotional charge of cosmopolitan life in this extraordinary city, and highlights the social and political changes over the decades that finally led to Nasser’s Egypt.

The Templars:

The History and the Myth

HarperCollins, New York

paperback and ebook 2009

'Nineteenth-century photographs of Egypt have been widely published, but Vintage Alexandria offers a tantalising glimpse of the early decades of Egypt's twentieth century. A photographer as well as a historian, Haag demonstrates an eye for both the evocative and the documentary. ... Readers familiar with the work of Lawrence Durrell, Constantine Cavafy and E M Forster will appreciate this vision of a city "as brilliant, sophisticated and advanced as any in the Mediterranean"'.

 - The Times Literary Supplement

'Michael Haag’s Alexandria is a remarkable achievement. Not merely a composite biography of Forster, Cavafy and Durrell, or their relations with the city, it is also a history of Alexandria, full of fascinating detail.'

                                —Sir Frank Kermode


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In 1187, nearly a century after the victorious First Crusade, Saladin captured Jerusalem. The Templars, headquartered on the Temple Mount, were driven from the city along with the Frankish population. The fall of Jerusalem was a turning point, the start of a narrative of desperate struggle and relentless loss. In little more than a century Acre would be destroyed, the Franks driven from Outremer, and the Templars themselves, reviled and disgraced, would face their final immolation.

Michael Haag's new book explores the rise of the Templars and their destruction against the backdrop of the Crusader ideal and their settlement venture in Outremer, which even after 400 years of Muslim occupation remained predominantly Christian, and with whom the Franks intermarried and created a distinctive civilisation. It is a story in which you know that everything will go wrong, and the fascination and the tragedy is in how it does so, and how complete is the loss.

The Tragedy of the Templars:

the Rise and Fall of the Crusader States

by Michael Haag

Profile Publishing


hardback and ebook 2012

paperback 2014


'The arrest of the Knights Templar on Friday October 13, 1307 is said to have called down a terrible curse on the kings of France. This seems to affect authors as well as monarchs; the good books on the Templars are outnumbered by the bad. Michael Haag has now twice defied the curse. ... Haag is a romantic pluralist, with an instinctive taste for the esoteric, the independent and the defeated; and a corresponding distrust of victors and orthodoxies.'

    - The Times  Literary Supplement

The Tragedy of the Templars

HarperCollins, New York

paperback and ebook 2013


The Quest for Mary Magdalene

by Michael Haag

Profile Publishing, London

hardback and ebook March 2016, paperback March 2017

Harper Collins, New York

paperback and ebook May 2016

In the manner of a quest, this book follows Mary Magdalene through the centuries, explores how she has been reinterpreted for every age, and examines what she reveals about woman and man and the divine.  It seeks the real Mary Magdalene in the New Testament and in the gnostic gospels where she is extolled as the chief disciple of Christ. It investigates how and why the Church recast her as a fallen woman, it traces her story through the Renaissance when she became a goddess of beauty and love, and it looks at Mary Magdalene as the feminist icon she has become today.


Arabic edition of

Alexandria: City of Memory

Supreme Council for Culture

Egypt 2016

The Durrells of Corfu

by Michael Haag

Profile Publishing, London

paperback and ebook April 2017

This book is about the Durrell family's years in Corfu, and also their time in India where all the children were born and where their father, a brilliant civil engineer, suddenly died. It recalls the real life characters the Durrells encountered in Corfu, notably the biologist and poet Theodore Stephanides, the taxi driver Spiro Halikiopoulos, the convict Kosti - and the visit of Larry's friend the American writer Henry Miller.  Also it tells the story of how the threat of war forced the Durrells to leave Corfu; of Margo's daring return, determined to stand with her island friends; and of Larry's perilous escape by sea to Alexandria in Egypt. An extended epilogue looks at Larry’s wartime work in Greece and Egypt and later fame as a novelist, Gerald’s emergence as a champion of endangered species, as well as the much less well-known lives of Margo, Leslie, Mother, Theodore and Spiro. The Durrells of Corfu is illustrated with numerous family photographs, many not published before.


The Times and The Sunday Times bestseller 

and Waterstones Book of the Month.