Drawing on its annual publication, the Middle East Contemporary Survey (MECS), the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University has put together a CD-ROM comprised solely of the chapters on Egypt between 1976 and 1996. It provides a concise history of Egypt over those two decades, written primarily by Israeli academics, with an occasional former Israeli diplomat pitching in. Beyond its survey approach, MECS focuses on particular areas of concern, including the process that led to the 1979 peace treaty and subsequent Egyptian-Israeli relations, and the ongoing battle between the government with Islamic militants. The CD also contains documents, such as the text of Sadat's 1977 Knesset speech and of the 1979 treaty.
While the CD's content are impressive, the Adobe Acrobat format and presentation is without frills. The CD has a table of contents and a search function, but the scrolling method, which must be used to change pages, is annoying. Worse, the search function can only be used within annual volumes—precluding the all-important searches spanning more than one year. Despite these technological complaints, a scholar or journalist working on Egypt will find the CD a welcome reference tool, one that conserves bookshelf space, and (at $35) a great bargain compared to the paper MECS. With luck, the Egypt CD is the first of many MECS electronic country surveys.