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4.1 out of 5 stars34
4.1 out of 5 stars
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2007
This was the second book on Egyptian history I brought as an adult. As an academic resource it is probably the definitive introduction to that subject. It runs chronologically from Predynastic up to the end of the Roman Period, offering a brief but accurate and meaningful glance into the reigns of all the Pharaohs and assorted foreign rulers who shaped Egyptian history.

The academic effort that went into this work must have been immense, and it is rightly one of the most important standard texts for all students, or indeed for those who aspire to become one. Indeed this volume now sits, rather well thumbed as a standard reference on my desk.

At first glance the small typeface and crammed approach makes this a slightly daunting work, but it's division into quite separate works on the major periods of Egyptian history (predynastic,old, FIP, middle, SIP, new, TIP, late, Ptolemaic, roman) means you can easily approach this book "a kingdom at a time", a much better way of tackling it, and also make it an excellent book for soaking up intellectually dead time such as commuting, work etc, which is how I approached it.

Whilst this work lacks some of the readability of Tydesley or Gahlin, it is a veritable gold mine of solidly researched history and for anyone interested in serious/mainstream Egyptian history, there really is no better place to start. It also contains a very useful bibliography for digging further into the nitty gritty of particular areas which fascinate you.

You really do need this book...
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88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2001
This book gives a detailed look at the history of ancient Egypt, from earliest times to the end of the pharaohs. Well illustrated with drawings & photographs, supporting the text.
Based entirely on the physical evidence from archealogy this history gives the political, but not the religous detail, that aids understanding of the two kingdoms.
The lack of religous reference, vital to a knowledge of the ancient Egyptians and their view of life, is a serious omission. Previous possession of this knowledge, would help the reader to understand the motivation and driving force of the kingdoms.
It is well written, although as different experts cover differing time periods, readability does vary from chapter to chapter. However this is not a major issue.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2012
This is an excellent resume of the whole of Ancient Egyptian history. Despite some of the negative reviews it is not boring, merely very thorough.
The style is variable because Ian Shaw has brought together different 'experts' to tell the history and some writers have a easier narrative style than others. It is more than a reference book because it does read as a story, but only just!
Its value lies in the comprehensive way it allows you to fit all the disparate bits of Egyptian history picked up from, school, casual reading the TV etc into a framework. Yes its is dry in places, but that's only because it is thorough.

Buy this book if you want to get Egyptian history straightened out in your mind. Use it as a reference work to look up which part of the 5000 odd years of interlocking stories is being mentioned elsewhere.
Don't buy this if you want a romance of ancient history.

Kindle readers (like myself) will be annoyed at the poor resolution of the maps, even when read on PC. The maps are almost essential at some points and unless you have access to historical atlas you will/may struggle at times.
It really is a shame that Amazon does not operate some form of quality control. It has the economic clout to tell e-publishers to get their act together!

This last should not prevent you from buying the book, even for Kindle, because I have not found another text to come even close to the usefulness of this work.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2007
Well, for one i'd like to stress how well I think the various authors have squeezed an amazing amount of information on all aspects of Egyptian history, culture and religion into comparatively few pages. This book provides an excellent base from which a reader can go about gathering more information. No one book will be sufficient to provide a reader with a thoroughly detailed account of Egyptian history without running into many many volumes. What the authors here do is condense the information into a size that is manageable without being "basic".

As a student of Egyptology under Ian Shaw I have found this book invaluable and have used it as a standard reference work in most essays and also as a background work in revision and its' list of resources at the back is extremely good at pointing me in the direction of other, more thorough works.

All in all I thoroughly recommend it to the student as well as someone with any interest in the ancient Egyptian civilisation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2008
If you can only have one book on Egyptology then this is the one.

Ian Shaw has gathered together experts to present a generally accepted history of this fascinating period of history. As a student of Egyptology I have a significant collection of books; but this is the one that I keep returning to. I've been using it for many years and can vouch for its broad coverage of a complex (and evolving) topic; the depth squeezed into a readable book is surprising.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2008
A fantastic, informative book, although lacking in religious discourse which formed much of ancient egyptian life. However, a marvellous reference book all the same. Would have been better in a larger format as difficult to read at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2012
I bought this book for my 16 year old daughter, who is mad about all things Egyptian (!). However, the book is really geared towards a higher education level. That said, I am sure she will be picking it up within a year or so when her A-levels are done.
It's packed with lots of dates, intricate information and text.
I would say is definitely aimed at Degree-level students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2014
Although there is much to learn from this book, the use of several authors makes it (inevitably) a very inconsistent read. While some write lucidly and evocatively about this fascinating subject, others are too prone to descending into arcane, archaeological jibberish. Referring to coded layers does little to enlighten the general reader, and the first chapter on Prehistory is rendered virtually unintelligble by the author's inability to stand back from the detail and summarise the conclusions that can be drawn for the period as a whole. What was needed here was a single voice with a rational, coherent but engrossing style who could really inspire the readership as well as convey a sound knowledge of the subject. Ian Shaw's chapter was so good, perhaps he should have written all of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2011
This book is fantastic for anyone who wants to take an academic interest in Ancient Egypt. It gives a good, clear review of Ancient Egyptian history, that is interesting and not too overbearing! Its a great buy!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2015
I got less than 100 pages in before the author refered to the pyramids as tombs, even though to this day there is next to no evidence of this. The book seems excellent if you want a catalogue of mainstream archealogical information. I put the book down after only a short way in because I do not agree with some of mainstream Egyptology. I would like to be neutral as a result because there will be people out there that do agree with the mainstream, if you do then this seems more aimed at you -2.5/5.
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