The ongoing Egyptian-Ethiopian dispute over the Nile waters is potentially one of the most difficult issues on the current international agenda, central to the very life of the two countries. Analyzing the context of the dispute across a span of more than a thousand years, The Cross and the River delves into the heart of both countries'identities and cultures. Erlich deftly weaves together three themes: the political relationship between successive Ethiopian and Egyptian regimes; the complex connection between the Christian churches in the two countries; and the influence of the Nile river system on Ethiopian and Egyptian definitions of national identity and mutual perceptions of the Other. Drawing on a vast range of sources, his study is key to an understanding of a bond built on both interdependence and conflict.
Haggai Erlich is professor emeritus of Middle East and African history at Tel Aviv University, Israel.