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The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy [Hardcover]

Jo Marchant
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.99
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Book Description

27 Jun 2013
More than 3,000 years ago, King Tutankhamun's desiccated body was lovingly wrapped and sent into the future as an immortal god. After resting undisturbed for more than three millennia, King Tut's mummy was suddenly awakened in 1922. Archaeologist Howard Carter had discovered the boy-king's tomb, and the soon-to-be famous mummy's story--even more dramatic than King Tut's life--began.
The mummy's "afterlife" is a modern story, not an ancient one. Award-winning science writer Jo Marchant traces the mummy's story from its first brutal autopsy in 1925 to the most recent arguments over its DNA. From the glamorous treasure hunts of the 1920s to today's high-tech scans in volatile modern Egypt, Marchant introduces us to the brilliant and sometimes flawed people who have devoted their lives to revealing the mummy's secrets, unravels the truth behind the hyped-up TV documentaries, and explains what science can and can't tell us about King Tutankhamun.

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The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy + The Millionaire and the Mummies: Theodore Davis's Gilded Age in the Valley of the Kings
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (27 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306821338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306821332
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 421,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Smithsonian Magazine, June 2013 "[A] thoughtful account of the post-unearthing life of the famous entertaining, lively book--she also interjects common sense, science and authentic history into her account...In the context of Marchant's book, the initial discovery fades: Real insight lies in the layers that time and new technologies reveal about the king and his nation." New Jersey syndicated "First Read" column, 5/26/13 "A fascinating tale" Nature, 6/27/13 "[The] rip-roaring story unwraps the science layer by layer, in tandem with the momentous discoveries and the emergence of theories on the ruler's health and parentage" Sacramento Bee, 6/30/13 "It's been a wild ride for King Tutankhamun's mummy...Marchant separates the facts from the fiction that has surrounded the controversial relic and explains 'what science can and can't tell us' about King Tut." American Way Magazine, 7/1/13 "Compelling." New Scientist "An unusual, gripping spin on the familiar." The Book Bag "A must-read for anyone who is fascinated in the history of Egypt." San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review "This is science journalism at its best -- elucidating, thorough, and just plain fun...Intense and exciting, The Shadow King is written like a fast-paced detective novel, with cliff-hanger chapter endings and breathtaking impetus. In the hands of a good writer, even the driest subject becomes fascinating. The Egyptian mummies are about as dry as they get, but in Marchant's extremely competent hands, they are resurrected into a vivid afterlife, albeit one they may not have imagined." Wall Street Journal, 7/27/13 "Marchant expounds Tut's scientific aspects and mysteries with engaging clarity." TrulyArts "Well worth a read for anyone who's interest in the Pharaohs."

About the Author

Jo Marchant is an award-winning journalist who specializes in writing about cutting-edge science. She has worked as a staff reporter and editor for "Nature" and "New Scientist," where she is currently a consultant. She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Once and Future Pharaoh 30 Jun 2013
Jo Marchant has done a wonderful job telling the story of King Tutankhamun, from the first tomb discoveries in the Valley of the Kings, to the famous discovery of King Tut's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922, to the latest DNA tests on the famous pharaoh and the mummies thought to be his family members. Tutankahmun has assumed many guises in the ninety years since he emerged from his tomb, from a robust young warrior king who was murdered by devious courtiers, to a feeble youth who died of malaria or accumulated genetic infirmities, and then back to a young sportsman who died in an unfortunate hunting accident.

Marchant is comfortable with ambiguity, and she doesn't have an axe to grind for any particular theory about who King Tut was or what happened to him, although she confesses to a certain fondness for the hunting accident theory, for reasons she explains in Chapter 16. She recounts the many examinations and studies of Tut and the other mummies found with him in his tomb, the theories, both good and bad, that these studies have produced, and the waves of "Tutmania" that seem to sweep the world once every few decades. In her own words, she tells "the story of the people who have studied Tutankhamun and the other royal mummies--who the scientists were, where the came from, and most importantly, what they were trying to find. But more than that, [the story of King Tut] is about all of us--why we are so fascinated with Tut, why we love these stories so much, and why we care so intimately about the fate of a boy who lived millennia ago" (p. 238).

Marchant succeeds admirably in telling this story in clean, elegant prose, with a novelist's flair for pulling the reader into the next chapter of the story. I highly recommend this book, one of my favorites of 2013.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality beats Television 15 July 2013
By Vanya
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Nothing jaw dropping, but what it does is draw a lot of threads together and explains that what is shown in TV documentaries is not the complete story, and is, as many of us know, a deliberate distortion of reality. This is not to say that all TV documentaries are a heap of lies, and indeed some are rather good, but we must not rely on them for history, only entertainment. My only complaint is that the quality of the photos in the book is poor. I see no reason for this to happen, but it is not important.

I shall be "mischevious" and say that this is the type of book, a book dealing with reality and not nonsense, that the AE fringe rarely, if ever, make comment on. I say this because they cannot stand the harsh light of reality, and prefer to reamain under their stones and live in ignorance. Sorry, but sometimes these things should be said :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 9 July 2013
By Monika
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Marchant approaches the subject in a rather different way than the many other authors who have written on Tutankhamun. She focuses on the various kinds of scientific research that has been conducted explaining them in much detail. Her style of writing is refreshing and never too scholarly. It is evident that she has put much effort into the research contacting many of the scientists involved and where possible meeting them in person. The book entirely met my expectations and in some points even exceeded them.
The only minor fault is the poor print of a few pages in my copy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book 8 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent and informative book that put the whole story of the testing of Tut's Mummy in perspective and explained the - often unexpected, scientific truths behind all of the testing. There is a whole world of stories, anecdotes and very easily and clearly explained scientific truths. The picture that emerges is surprising and enthralling!
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