Gamal Abdel Nasser was born in Alexandria on January 15, 1918, the son of a postman. After secondary schooling in Cairo, he entered the Royal Military Academy, and graduated in 1938. There and in subsequent service he formed friendships with a few fellow officers and with them created a secret revolutionary society, the Free Officers. Egypt was ruled at the time by a small landowning class that possessed one-third of the land and dominated parliament; the British presence was all-pervasive, and the king, Faruk I, was an irresponsible playboy. The Free Officers plotted to rid Egypt of the British and the king, and the disastrous campaign against Israel in 1948 strengthened their resolve. On July 23, 1952, they staged a coup and ousted King Faruk. Although he was the real leader, Nasser initially remained in the background.