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The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby…

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

by Toby Wilkinson

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5181429,417 (3.97)7



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A very comprehensive look at the history of ancient Egypt. Interesting, but reads too much like a textbook to be really engaging. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
If you're looking for a one-volume overview of Egyptian history, look no further. All problems of interpretation and chronology are ironed out into a driving narrative that's told with real imagination. Wilkinson signposts some of the problems in the notes. There's also a massive bibliography. A nicely produced book with good illustrations and clear, simple maps. It's well written. Particularly good is the opening sequence with it's geographical overview of the country. Very useful for people who don't live in a long thin country. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 24, 2017 |
As the title suggest, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt covers over 3000 years of history and like the Nile river runs shallow and long. Be prepared for a pageant of royal names which all sound alike, or are exactly the same, followed by a small bit of their reign before moving onto the next exulted king. Like the names, events seem to repeat as well. It lacks some texture of the period being mostly a plain political history. I found the authors style to be a little grating at times, at the beginning he informs us Egypt is the history of 2-bit despots. Great. That may be true but his lack of enthusiasm for the subject wears off on the reader. It seems to try and be a counter-weight to popular culture romanticization. That's OK but c'mon, Egypt really was pretty fascinating and always will be. Anyway this book has slightly turned me off from Ancient Egypt but I'm not convinced there isn't more to be found of interest. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Oct 1, 2017 |
This is one of the best history books i have ever read. With such a long period to cover and so much materials on the subject, i think the author really did a good job in weaving a good and interesting story. The author was able to connect each period with ease, providing good transition between each chapter of Egypt's illustrious history. The author also did a good job in ensuring that dates, names and places will not overwhelm the reader by omitting those which are unnecessary to the larger narrative of Egypt's history. I would highly recommend this book. ( )
  zen_923 | Mar 8, 2017 |
A very comprehensive look at the history of ancient Egypt. Interesting, but reads too much like a textbook to be really engaging. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Toby Wilkinson's The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt stands in the great tradition of Breasted but incorporates much new archaeological information. With a literary flair and a sense for a story well told, Mr. Wilkinson offers a highly readable, factually up-to-date account of what we know about Egyptian political history. . . .

Mr. Wilkinson energetically chronicles the deeds of the great kings [and] . . . also brings us, intimately sometimes, into a world of everyday Egyptians, one revealed only in the last century by the work of scholars systemically studying Egyptian material culture. Documents give glimpses, all too occasionally but clearly, of labor camps, workers strikes and — at the end of the New Kingdom — even robbery of the royal tombs. . . .

Mr. Wilkinson puts too much emphasis on the importance of the dynasties. This is still the norm in Egyptian history, but it does not tell us much about the driving forces of historical change, which included climatic crises — manifested in wild Nile flooding — and exogenous shocks such as invasion. . . .

Elsewhere in The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, Mr. Wilkinson rightly stresses the brutal nature of the Egyptian state. "Autocratic regimes," he says, "live and die by force, and ancient Egypt was no exception." "The most chilling example of this tendency," he suggests, "can be seen in the tombs of Egypt's early rulers . . . where dismembered bodies of several individuals had clearly been interred with the tomb owner." . . .

Mr. Wilkinson's account shares with Breasted's one unfortunate flaw — epitomized by this book's title. Mr. Wilkinson sees the first millennium as one of great decline, a "fall" from a supposed golden age. . . . But in fact this was a crucial period in the evolution of Egyptian civilization. . . . [It] saw the first Greek merchants and soldiers arrive in Egypt, the introduction of coinage and (as Herodotus tells us) the circumnavigation of Africa. A period of change, no doubt. But "change and decay," as Mr. Wilkinson has it? I demur.
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"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my words, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

—Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ozymandias"
For Ben and Ginny
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Two hours before sunset on November 26, 1922, the English Egyptologist Howard Carter and three companions entered a rock-cut corridor dug into the floor of the Valley of the Kings. (Introduction)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In this magnificent history, Toby Wilkinson combines grand narrative sweep with detailed knowledge of hieroglyphs and the iconography of power, to reveal Ancient Egypt in all its complexity--from the brutality and repression that lay behind the appearance of its unchanging monarchy to its extraordinary architectural and cultural achievements.… (more)

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