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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly balanced but sometimes extreme
Akhenaten has to be one of the most fascinating characters in Egyptian history and the deliberate destruction of much the documentation of his historical legacy by subsequent Pharaohs often leaves the Amarna period open to the wildest of speculations. Nicholas Reeves presents a wealth of information in this book, often including many quotes from original sources and...
Published on 8 Oct 2007 by Gordon Eldridge

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars False prophet or covert Epicurean?
"Akhenaten: Egypt's false prophet" is an immensely tedious, boring and scholarly book, about half of which doesn't even deal with Akhenaten.

Yet, it's immensely controversial. Just read some of the other customer reviews!

The reason isn't hard to fathom. Akhenaten (who ruled Egypt for about 20 years around 1340 BC) was a heretical pharaoh who...
Published on 25 Dec 2010 by Ashtar Command


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly balanced but sometimes extreme, 8 Oct 2007
By 
Gordon Eldridge (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet (Paperback)
Akhenaten has to be one of the most fascinating characters in Egyptian history and the deliberate destruction of much the documentation of his historical legacy by subsequent Pharaohs often leaves the Amarna period open to the wildest of speculations. Nicholas Reeves presents a wealth of information in this book, often including many quotes from original sources and photos of original art work so that the readers can judge some of his conclusions for themselves.

The book is carefully researched and the general argument that Akhenaten used his religious beliefs to legitimate his power is well supported by the evidence quoted. This does not of course preclude the notion that Akhenaten was sincere in his beliefs and Reeves does not suggest this. In fact it seems far from illogical that a ruler of ancient Egypt could have believed he was the son of god.

Many of the conundrums of Amarna history are argued in a very balanced way in the book. Reeves effectively debunks the theories that Akhenaten was homosexual or that his appearance in statuary was due to Froehlich's syndrome. He provides interesting evidence in relation to suggestions that Akhenaten may or may not have suffered from Marfan's syndrome and that Nerfertiti may or may not have been promoted to the status of co-regent. At times, however, Reeves takes fairly extreme positions based on somewhat flimsy evidence. He claims that Akhenaten's 'dictatorial rule' led Egypt to the 'brink of disaster', that Akhenaten's rule involved 'wanton destruction' and 'deliberate neglect'. He describes the later years of Amarna as a 'terror' and suggests that Pharaoh's lover Kiya had an evil personality and may have been pulling strings behind the scene. These extreme positions are supported with arguments based on evidence where the author and purpose of the documents quoted is often ignored. One document marshalled in favor of the sorry state Egypt had descended into was written by a priest of Amun, who would obviously have had a significantly biased agenda.

Overall though, the book is extremely readable and paints a fascinating picture of power politics in Egypt, where priests, generals and the Pharoah himself vie for power and influence in a manner so typical of politics throughout the history of mankind that it certainly rings true.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amarna through Akhenaten, 21 Jan 2003
By 
Mr. M. A. Bowles "Scientist" (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Akhenaton, Nefertiti and Tutankhamun have achieved the Egyptian goal of eternal life because they seem to be constantly on television in BBC specials through to History Channel and Discovery. The casual reader soon learns that Akhenaton is an enigmatic character who apparently turned Egyptian life upside down, so much so his general-come-pharaoh Horemheb decided to remove him and his family from history. Nicholas has produced top notch work on Tutankhamum in the form of a lavishly illustrated "The complete Tutankhamun, the king, the tomb the royal treasure" and Akhenaton is sound stuff also.
Unfortunately, the subject of Akhenaton can spiral into (extreme) speculation but in this case Nicholas keeps us in safe hands. The information within the book is sensational from the point of view that Akhenaton did things his way and carried out the equivalent of a one-man revolution. However, Nicholas goes to great lengths to provide objective evidence to support his views and this gives the work a down-to-earth feel. For those readers looking for confirmation that Akhenaton was really Moses you will be presented with facts that give a different picture. For those seeking more knowledge about the Armarna period here is a book that is difficult to put down once you read the first chapter. Here is a book I would gladly recommend because the writing style is good, it is well illustrated and packed with facts, figures and references. For those who would like a different view point on the 'Armarna period', consider "Tutankhamun, the life and death of a boy King" by Christine El Madhy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars False prophet or covert Epicurean?, 25 Dec 2010
This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet (Paperback)
"Akhenaten: Egypt's false prophet" is an immensely tedious, boring and scholarly book, about half of which doesn't even deal with Akhenaten.

Yet, it's immensely controversial. Just read some of the other customer reviews!

The reason isn't hard to fathom. Akhenaten (who ruled Egypt for about 20 years around 1340 BC) was a heretical pharaoh who attempted to abolish traditional Egyptian religion in favour of something that looks like monotheism. If this interpretation of Akhenaten's agenda is true, his cult of the Aten (the deified light of the sun) could very well be the world's first monotheist religion. Add to this a curiously naturalistic art, an emphasis on the "here and now", and a seeming rejection of a real afterlife, and you almost wonder whether Akhenaten might have been an Epicurean atheist in disguise!

Since Western culture considers monotheism or atheism as more advanced than polytheism, many have seen Akhenaten as something of an ancient hero. His beautiful queen Nefertiti, weird statues showing Akhenaten with a grotesque body, and the heretical pharaoh's family connections to Tutankhamen, have all added to the mystery and speculations. I suspect the general public still see Akhenaten and Nefertiti in a positive light. There are even New Age cults which consider the man as something of a prophet.

But are we to believe Nicholas Reeves, Akhenaten was a false prophet...

Reeves argues that Akhenaten simply wanted to centralize all power in Egypt into his own hands. Since the priesthood of Amen (and other polytheist priesthoods) owned vast amounts of land, piled up riches in their temples and hence wielded indirect political influence, Akhenaten decided to attack them by launching a fake "monotheist" cult nominally dedicated to Aten but really centred around himself. Akhenaten was the only person who could interpret the will of Aten, and hence became the sole religious power in Egypt. He then unleashed a reign of terror against the traditional priesthoods, all the while confiscating their property. That the cult of Aten was really a cult of Akhenaten is proven, according to the author, by the imposition of house altars showing the royal family. To further his agenda, Akhenaten had a new capital city, Akhetaten, built on a previously empty spot in the desert, thus isolating himself from the traditional capitals of Memphis and Thebes.

Reeves further claims that Akhenaten attempted to isolate Egypt from the outside world, neglected to keep control of Egypt's foreign vassals in Syria, and experimented with economic autarchy. Together with the terror, this supposedly brought Egypt to the brink of disaster.

Reeves also indulges in some strange speculations himself, including the claim that Akhenaten's male successor Smenkhare was really none other than...Nefertiti assuming a fake male identity! He also claims that the treasonous letter from an Egyptian lady of high standing to the Hittites was written by Nefertiti. And yes, he believes that Tutankhamen was murdered.

Personally, I don't know enough about Akhenaten to form an informed opinion about him. What strikes me as curious are his "Epicurean" tendencies, admitted even by Reeves. Why would an ancient Egyptian pharaoh adopt such? Doesn't this show that Akhenaten's new religion (or philosophy) actually was a real belief on his part, and not simply a manoeuvre? Then he tried to impose it on the superstitious people of Egypt, with disastrous results...

One also wonders how Akhenaten could have ruled Egypt for almost two decades, if he was such an unmitigated disaster? Why didn't somebody stage an uprising? Why wasn't he murdered by his own retinue?

There is something here that doesn't meet the eye...

Be that as it may, I nevertheless give "Akhenaten: Egypt's false prophet" three stars and advice everyone to continue pondering the problem of Egypt's most revolutionary pharaoh...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history, reads like a novel, 7 Sep 2007
By 
gilly8 "gilly8" (Mars, the hotspot of the U.S.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet (Paperback)
If you are fascinated with ancient Egypt, do not miss this non-fiction book about Pharaoh Akhenaten,which reads like a well-written novel. The mysterious Pharaoh Akhenaten, tried to introduce one god,the sun-disc, the Aten, and overthrow the all the other gods, became known as the "great heretic" is one of the most interesting and debated historical figures of all time. His wife and great queen was the beautiful and mysterious Nefertiti.

Akhenaten began a revolution in religion in his ancient empire that can best be compared to the Protestant reformation in the Western Europe. It overthrew the security and faith of a generation of devout people, but more than that, those who would not bend to his new god were cruelly persecuted and killed. As in the days of King Henry VIII in England, those priests of the old gods were thrown out of their temples and had to go into hiding or convert or be killed. It was a time of terror, and the loss of a good part of the empire due his obsession with his religious mania. Once venerated by historians as the first monotheist in history, now seen as more of a mystical tyrant, he remains a fascinating figure, one who demanded for the first time ever for an ancient king, that he be portrayed as he really looked, as a real human being, and that he be shown as a loving husband and father, not in the traditional form of the great pharaoh of traditional Egyptian artwork. A radical, yet cruel, considered after his death the "Great Heretic" and stamped out completely from history until rediscovered in modern times.

All of this is laid out in clearly readable prose, along with great illustrations and photographs of the surviving artwork, carvings, statues and jewelry. The illustrations alone are worth the price of the book.

It also has an early section that summarizes the history of the period up to that point, and it continues on to the reign of his son Tutankhamun. (Whose mother was a lesser member of the harem, not Nefertiti).

Worth the photographs alone, but well written, not dry, perhaps my favorite book of many on ancient Egypt.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well researched and written., 7 Jun 2001
By 
A. Hobson (UK) - See all my reviews
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Nicholas Reeves has gone into depth about the life of one of Egypts most famous kings including his famous wife Nefertiti and the mysterious connection between her and the mummy of tomb KV55 (Smenkhare?).His detailed analysis and pictures of El-Armana are the best that I have seen to date and the new approach to our view of Akhenaten as a weak and effeminate ruler, far from the typical presentaion of an all poweful pharoah, instead presenting him as a cynical controlling man consumed by power.His narrative also goes into the enigmatic Tutankhamun's death and the possiblility of murder.All this is backed up by a mass of physical evidence and fact that makes it a compulsive read for any would be egyptologists.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book to dip in and out of, 11 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet (Paperback)
Delivery was prompt and I have had great reads since I've had it. Easy to understand but still soffisticated enough to quench the scholar's interest in us
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read of a slant on history, 27 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet (Paperback)
The summary as written on line prepared one for this book. No great surprises. Enjoyable to read if this is your taste in literature
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Dr Reeves' usual standards, 7 Aug 2001
Although this is a good introduction to the life and times of Akhenaten, it falls far short of the definitive account I was expecting from Nicholas Reeves.
I find it suprising that Dr Reeves maintains the misleading tradition of calling the pharaoh Amenhotep IV-Akhenaten, since throughout his reign he was known (always and only) as King Neferkheperure Waenre.
This also somewhat destroys Reeves' argument about the rise of the Aten being a reaction against the growth in power of the priests of Amen during the first half of the 18th Dynasty.
Every single king of the 18th Dynasty incorporated Ra into their name as Pharaoh, and none of them included the name of Amen - they are (up to 'Amenhotep III') Kings NebpehtiRE, DjeserkaRE, AkheperkaRE, AkheperenRE, MaatkaRE, MenkheperRE, AkheperuRE, MenkheperuRE and NebmaatRE.
Note also that even 'Akhenaten' himself was King NeferKHEPERuRE WaenRE - making any claims of his supposedly dogmatic monotheism somewhat lame.
Far from being a revolutionary account of this (alleged) revolutionary king, this is a fairly standard account that takes far too much for granted. For instance, I find it amazing that an Egyptologist as experienced as Nicholas Reeves will tell us about the famous limestone bust of Nefertiti - but fail to mention that we only assume it's the head of Nefertiti (there are no names or inscriptions on it, after all).
Sorry to be so pedantic, but I really expected a lot more from Nicholas Reeves.
Tutankhamen by Christine el-Mahdy is a much better account of the end of the 18th Dynasty - more thought-provoking, more detailed, more accurate and more interesting.
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8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A false prophet?, 4 Mar 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Helsinki, Finland) - See all my reviews
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I didn't enjoy this book, in fact I didn't finish it. I think the title is very missleading, if the Pharoah changed the religion in order to maintain power, does this automatically mean that he didn't believe in his own religion? Presumably he believed in the Pharoah's divine right to rule and so he was protecting that right. After all any prophet, christian, muslim or jewish, has gained some political power from their beliefs, does that automatically make them false prophets? I'm sure they believed in their mission. the book is rather plodding and I just got fed up with reading it, there's a lot of repetition of fact. On a minor note I didn't like the glossy paper and pictures on every page. I tend to take books on the bus to read and the heavy paper made the book difficult to carry around. I also find it distracting to have pictures on every page and in the margin, as I have to break off from reading the body of the text to read the legend, this may be one reason why I found the book such hard going. I would not recomend this book to the novice like me. I only bought it because I'd read Mika Waltari's "The Egyptian" (Sinuhe), an historical novel set during the same period and I thought it looked like an interesting period of history.
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Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet
Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet by Nicholas Reeves (Paperback - 4 April 2005)
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