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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This book deals with history and culture along the Nile from 1798 to 1868 whilst the author's other book The White Nile explores the history from 1856 to 1900. Both books are masterpiecs of history, geography and ethnography. The Blue Nile chronicles events on the Nile from Ethiopia through Sudan to the sea but also deals with European history in the way it impacted on the Nile and the areas under discussion. It is an impressive resource of the events, the personalities involved and the people groups of this vast region.

Part One: Reconnaissance, opens with a description of Lake Tana in the highlands of Ethiopia. Although the lake is considered the primary source of the Blue Nile, the Little Abbai river which flows from the Ghis Abbai swamp is the largest tributary to Lake Tana. Where it leaves the lake, the river is called the Big Abbai. The author descibed the landscape of the highlands, the Tissat Falls about 20 miles beyond the lake and the desolate Blue Nile gorge as the river winds down the highlands to Sudan. This section also investigates the exploits of explorer James Bruce in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. He was the first European to reach the source of the river.

Part Two: The French in Egypt, discusses the political situation in Europe in the 1790s and the background to Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. There are detailed descriptions of the preparations and the condition of Egypt at the time with discussions of Mamluke rule and the leader Murad. The French moved as far south as Aswan and completed the conquest by October 1799. Then the English destroyed their fleet and they were trapped in Egypt.

Part Three: The Turks In The Sudan, takes up the history from 1801 when the English and the Turks defeated the French and narrates the rise of Muhammad Ali, an Albanian Turk who took control of Egypt and destroyed the remnants of the Mamlukes. The life and travels of the great explorer James Lewis Burkhart are investigated here. He was a most reliable and observant traveller who wrote about all aspects of life along the river. It was in this time that the city of Khartoum was founded.

Part Four: The British In Ethiopia, chronicles the situation in Ethiopia under Emperor Theodore. He held some Europeans hostage so a British expeditionary force under Napier was sent to rescue the prisoners. The trials and tribulations of the force are discussed in great detail. The Magdala campaign eventually led to the collapse of the Ethiopian empire as it then existed and the land split into areas controlled by war-lords.

In the Epilogue, Moorehead points out that the aforementioned events finally ended the isolation of the Nile valley from Lake Tana to the sea and that these countries would never be the same again. He also provides a description of Lake Tana at the time of the book's publication. The Blue Nile contains a map and a section on Sources, arranged by chapter and with comments by the author. The book concludes with an index. It is a most illuminating and engaging work. I highly recommend The White Nile by the same author, where the narrative continues up to the year 1900.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2001
When I first read this book I was sitting in a rural school half way up Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I found this book on dusty bookshelf, left on its own in a collection of school books. I opened the book which starts its journey in Zanzibar....and follows the adventures and journeys of all the famous employers from Livingstone to Stanley to Baker and Speke...... If your were to read this book in Europe or America you would be on the next flight to Africa. Since reading the book, I have come back to England and brought another copy and read it more times than anything........
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2008
A good book, written almost 50 years ago (at a time when many African countries were gaining independence) about the discovery, conquest and colonization of the Nile region by Europeans in the period 1850-1900. The first part of the book deals with the exploration of the source of the Nile by such people as Burton, Speke, Baker, Stanley and Livingstone. The second part of the book, in my opinion the most interesting one, deals with England's assertion of influence over Egypt and the Sudan. The most interesting chapter in that part is the one dealing with Gordon's ill fated fight against the Mahdi in Sudan in 1884-85, but other episodes are included, such as the Emin Pasha' expedition, the battle of Omdurdan (a very one sided affair which put the Sudan finally under Britain's effective possession) and the Fashoda incident that almost produced war between England and France. A good volume, even if some of the assumptions the author put forward are dated now. It is also interesting to see how slavery was regarded as a natural institution in the Muslim world as recently as a century ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2011
I read the author's book on The Blue Nile some years ago and always meant to read something else of his and at last got round to it. Moorehead's books are quite simply amongst the best I have ever read. Unbelievably it was written in 1960 but his words leap from the page as fresh as if they've just been set down. It is a history of the discovery of, and the events associated with the Nile for two hundred years. But more than that he gives us a detailed picture of the people involved and their relationships - often acrimonious. Neither Burton or Livingstone, though venerated, come out of it very well in my view, and Speke, who actually did find the source of the Nile, is almost unheard of today - though he has a rather large monument in Kensington Gardens, London. The book does not ignore the African and Arab characters in the history of the Nile but gives us a detailed account of the way they lived and how they viewed the European and American interlopers. I cannot recommend this book too highly.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2001
Not much has to be said about Alan Moorehead's Blue Nile or its companion the White Nile. If you've ever wanted to be an explorer in Africa on a lazy afternoon then this is it. It's a history of a river and a travel book rolled into one. And that would be an understatement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2011
Quite simply the most interesting book I have ever read. It captured my attention from the first few words right to the end. It is well written; it moves at just the right pace, never lingering too long on any particular section; it tells the story of many different and intriguing characters, framed by a fascinating and yet terrifying place, at a very strange and at times, shocking period in history. It will most probably encourage you to read more on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2011
Having read someone else's copy some years ago and just started on Tim Jeal's recently published 'Explorers of the Nile' I felt I needed to have my own copy of 'The White Nile'. To find I had bought a much better illustrated and produced copy than the one I had read was a pleasant surprise. Now fully briefed by Jeal's up-to-date scholarship and research I read it with slightly different eyes, but no less admiration.
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on 16 June 2014
This book published as a revised edition in 1972 (first published in 1962) should be read in conjunction with the authors other book entitled White Nile published in 1971.
The first chapter deals with the discovery of the source of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana by various people dating back to the 16th centuary -some approaching from Zanzibar.You have multiple discoverers take your pick.
The remainder of the book relates how the French,Turks And British influenced activities and developments along the whole length of the Nile.
First class text,pictures,paintings and illustrations.
A must for any library.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2006
Get a hold of this book if you can. It is well written, entertaining and full of geographical and historical interest.
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on 27 March 2011
I read this before travelling to Uganda and the source of the Nile. It made my adventure so much more enjoyable as I could relate to the country and people with a far greater empathy knowing that it has only been developed for the last 200 years or so. It also gave me a real insight to the history of the interior of the dark continent.
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