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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present
I've come across Toby Wilkinson's works before (a couple of his books are still waiting for me to get to them on my overcrowded shelves) and always enjoyed reading his extremely accessible yet learned Egyptian narratives.

In this book, he has journeyed downriver (confusingly, the Egyptian norm is to consider heading north up the Nile to be downriver) from Upper...
Published 2 months ago by Keen Reader

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscences of times past
There are two editions of this book:

the British Bloomsbury edition (ISBN 978-1408830093 hc) is set in Linotype Stemple Garamond font and the pages are finished with a cut edge;

the US Knopf edition (ISBN 978-0385351533 hc) is set in Adobe Garamond font and the pages are finished with a deckle edge.

I borrowed the Bloomsbury edition from...
Published 5 months ago by Diotima


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present, 14 Feb. 2015
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
I've come across Toby Wilkinson's works before (a couple of his books are still waiting for me to get to them on my overcrowded shelves) and always enjoyed reading his extremely accessible yet learned Egyptian narratives.

In this book, he has journeyed downriver (confusingly, the Egyptian norm is to consider heading north up the Nile to be downriver) from Upper Egypt (again confusingly, the southernmost part of Egypt) through Middle Egypt to Lower Egypt - from the Cataracts beyond Elephantine and Aswan all the way to Cairo. On the way, he reiterates his theme of the continuity of the Nile in Egypt's life from prehistory through ancient and modern history to the current day, and at each stopping point along the Nile journey writes of places and people of interest who have something of import to add to the location. All in all, a most interesting and intriguing way to approach Egypt - not chronologically, but geographically, thus taking in ancient to modern stories all along the way.

In the first chapter the author writes of the Nile, as it has been viewed by visitors over the centuries, including such auspicious visitors as Heredotus and Napoleon, and those who travelled the Nile such as Amelia Edwards. Then chapters 2 through 7 cover areas in Upper Egypt - Aswan, the Deep South, Luxor, Western Thebes, Qift and Qena and Abydos. Chapter 8 covers Middle Egypt, and chapters 9 and 10 cover Lower Egypt - the Fayum and Cairo. I did think it a little odd that we had 6 chapters on one third of the Nile's length, 1 chapter on the second third, and two chapters to cover the whole northern section, but perhaps the author felt that the areas in Upper Egypt were of more particular importance to the Nile itself. Certainly the history of Upper Egypt is perhaps less familiar to readers than other areas such as Luxor, Thebes, Cairo and Giza. That query (on my part) aside, this book is a delight throughout.

By the time we come to the last chapter, and the focus on Cairo the timeframe has moved also to the modern day; so much of the history of Cairo and its surrounds is more `modern' than `ancient' that it is easy to start thinking about current events in Cairo and Egypt which are so much in the news these days; the Arab Spring, the overthrow of Mubarak, the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the aftermath of elections with the crackdown on journalists. Egypt has so much depth in its history throughout time, it would be a tragedy if more was lost in its modern history.

This is a hugely interesting book, both informative and written in an entirely accessible manner. Wilkinson wears his learning lightly in this book, and it is one that could be read very readily by somebody with little to no previous knowledge of Egypt or its history, and also enjoyed by someone who has read much on the matter. Definitely well worth reading, and totally recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present, 14 Feb. 2015
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
I've come across Toby Wilkinson's works before (a couple of his books are still waiting for me to get to them on my overcrowded shelves) and always enjoyed reading his extremely accessible yet learned Egyptian narratives.

In this book, he has journeyed downriver (confusingly, the Egyptian norm is to consider heading north up the Nile to be downriver) from Upper Egypt (again confusingly, the southernmost part of Egypt) through Middle Egypt to Lower Egypt - from the Cataracts beyond Elephantine and Aswan all the way to Cairo. On the way, he reiterates his theme of the continuity of the Nile in Egypt's life from prehistory through ancient and modern history to the current day, and at each stopping point along the Nile journey writes of places and people of interest who have something of import to add to the location. All in all, a most interesting and intriguing way to approach Egypt - not chronologically, but geographically, thus taking in ancient to modern stories all along the way.

In the first chapter the author writes of the Nile, as it has been viewed by visitors over the centuries, including such auspicious visitors as Heredotus and Napoleon, and those who travelled the Nile such as Amelia Edwards. Then chapters 2 through 7 cover areas in Upper Egypt - Aswan, the Deep South, Luxor, Western Thebes, Qift and Qena and Abydos. Chapter 8 covers Middle Egypt, and chapters 9 and 10 cover Lower Egypt - the Fayum and Cairo. I did think it a little odd that we had 6 chapters on one third of the Nile's length, 1 chapter on the second third, and two chapters to cover the whole northern section, but perhaps the author felt that the areas in Upper Egypt were of more particular importance to the Nile itself. Certainly the history of Upper Egypt is perhaps less familiar to readers than other areas such as Luxor, Thebes, Cairo and Giza. That query (on my part) aside, this book is a delight throughout.

By the time we come to the last chapter, and the focus on Cairo the timeframe has moved also to the modern day; so much of the history of Cairo and its surrounds is more `modern' than `ancient' that it is easy to start thinking about current events in Cairo and Egypt which are so much in the news these days; the Arab Spring, the overthrow of Mubarak, the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the aftermath of elections with the crackdown on journalists. Egypt has so much depth in its history throughout time, it would be a tragedy if more was lost in its modern history.

This is a hugely interesting book, both informative and written in an entirely accessible manner. Wilkinson wears his learning lightly in this book, and it is one that could be read very readily by somebody with little to no previous knowledge of Egypt or its history, and also enjoyed by someone who has read much on the matter. Definitely well worth reading, and totally recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present, 4 Aug. 2014
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Hardcover)
I've come across Toby Wilkinson's works before (a couple of his books are still waiting for me to get to them on my overcrowded shelves) and always enjoyed reading his extremely accessible yet learned Egyptian narratives.

In this book, he has journeyed downriver (confusingly, the Egyptian norm is to consider heading north up the Nile to be downriver) from Upper Egypt (again confusingly, the southernmost part of Egypt) through Middle Egypt to Lower Egypt - from the Cataracts beyond Elephantine and Aswan all the way to Cairo. On the way, he reiterates his theme of the continuity of the Nile in Egypt's life from prehistory through ancient and modern history to the current day, and at each stopping point along the Nile journey writes of places and people of interest who have something of import to add to the location. All in all, a most interesting and intriguing way to approach Egypt - not chronologically, but geographically, thus taking in ancient to modern stories all along the way.

In the first chapter the author writes of the Nile, as it has been viewed by visitors over the centuries, including such auspicious visitors as Heredotus and Napoleon, and those who travelled the Nile such as Amelia Edwards. Then chapters 2 through 7 cover areas in Upper Egypt - Aswan, the Deep South, Luxor, Western Thebes, Qift and Qena and Abydos. Chapter 8 covers Middle Egypt, and chapters 9 and 10 cover Lower Egypt - the Fayum and Cairo. I did think it a little odd that we had 6 chapters on one third of the Nile's length, 1 chapter on the second third, and two chapters to cover the whole northern section, but perhaps the author felt that the areas in Upper Egypt were of more particular importance to the Nile itself. Certainly the history of Upper Egypt is perhaps less familiar to readers than other areas such as Luxor, Thebes, Cairo and Giza. That query (on my part) aside, this book is a delight throughout.

By the time we come to the last chapter, and the focus on Cairo the timeframe has moved also to the modern day; so much of the history of Cairo and its surrounds is more `modern' than `ancient' that it is easy to start thinking about current events in Cairo and Egypt which are so much in the news these days; the Arab Spring, the overthrow of Mubarak, the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the aftermath of elections with the crackdown on journalists. Egypt has so much depth in its history throughout time, it would be a tragedy if more was lost in its modern history.

This is a hugely interesting book, both informative and written in an entirely accessible manner. Wilkinson wears his learning lightly in this book, and it is one that could be read very readily by somebody with little to no previous knowledge of Egypt or its history, and also enjoyed by someone who has read much on the matter. Definitely well worth reading, and totally recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscences of times past, 2 Nov. 2014
By 
This review is from: The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Hardcover)
There are two editions of this book:

the British Bloomsbury edition (ISBN 978-1408830093 hc) is set in Linotype Stemple Garamond font and the pages are finished with a cut edge;

the US Knopf edition (ISBN 978-0385351533 hc) is set in Adobe Garamond font and the pages are finished with a deckle edge.

I borrowed the Bloomsbury edition from my local library.

The 33 colour illustrations are the same in both editions. Those in the Bloomsbury edition are not as sharp as those shown on Amazon's "Look inside" for the Knopf edition. A few of the illustrations are credited as having been sourced from Werner Forman Archive and Corbis.

The illustrations, unfortunately, do not reflect the text. There are no photos of a dahabiya (pp. 14, 32), on which the author travelled from Aswan to Luxor; the Nilometer on Elephantine "one of the least impressive but most important monuments in all of Egypt" (pp. 43-44); "the majestic ruins of Kom Ombo" (pp. 64-67); the "extraordinary landscape" of the quarries at Gebel el-Silsila (pp. 69-70); nor the red quartzite statue of Amenhotep III "unearthed in 1989" which "takes pride of place in the Luxor Museum" (p. 101). Yet there's a photo of Abu Simbel which, although mentioned, is neither described nor visited (being beyond the scope of the book).

According to the author, the statue of Amenhotep III found in the Luxor Statue Cache "showed the king emerging into the solar court at Luxor, visibly younger, radiant as the sun, and undergoing transformation into a celestial falcon." This is a more than fanciful description of the statue of Amenhotep III in the Luxor Museum which is actually a statue of a statue of the king standing on a sledge.

Direct quotes are acknowledged in the Notes but there are pages and pages of historical information - both ancient and modern - without a single source being mentioned.

The author tells of the Luxor Massacre at the Temple of Deir el-Bahri on 17 November 1997 (pp. 148-149) and claims that "the gunmen were pursued and apprehended by the traders and other local inhabitants, aghast at the attack on their community and their livelihoods." This is quite misleading. The gunmen were not apprehended by anyone. After killing 58 foreign tourists and 4 Egyptians at the Temple the terrorists hijacked an Isis Tours bus with its driver in order to go to the Valley of the Kings (where they intended to kill more tourists). The driver, however, drove them to a checkpoint with armed Egyptian tourist police and military forces. One of the terrorists was killed in a shootout on the spot and the other 5 fled on foot into the hills where their bodies were later found in a cave, apparently having committed suicide together. All of this can be verified on Wikipedia which provides 6 accessible on-line references for the incident.

According to the author, at Philae, in order "to transfer the monuments to the nearby island of Agilqiyya" ... "the structures were cut up into forty thousand blocks" (p. 55). Not so. According to Wikipedia, "every building was dismantled into about 40,000 units". The author has confused Philae with Abu Simbel where the temples really were cut up for relocation. Such confusion - by `the foremost Egyptologist of his time' (Sunday Telegraph) - is disquieting. How many other mis-recollections are there in the book?

The author acknowledges "the crew and staff of the dahabiya Afandina". According to his travel article `Nile cruises: the river where time stands still' in the Telegraph (13 February 2014), he went on a "five-day journey downriver" from Aswan to Luxor on the Afandina.

www DOT telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/10636237/Nile-cruises-the-river-where-time-stands-still.html

The much quoted Amelia Edwards, however, travelled all the way from Cairo to Wadi Halfa and return in a dahabiya in 1873-4.

Recommendation:

"A Thousand Miles Up The Nile" by Amelia B. Edwards which is available in facsimile as a hardcover (1993) from Darf Publishers (ISBN 978-1850772279) and a paperback (2008) from Norton Creek Press (ISBN 978-0981928425). Beware of other editions which have been digitally scanned with many typos and even missing pages.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sail through time on a journey down the Nile, 11 July 2014
This review is from: The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Hardcover)
“Without the Nile, there would be no Egypt” according to Toby Wilkinson, paraphrasing the famous quote from Herodotus, as true today as in ancient times. In a country that is 95% desert, it is the great river that brings fertility and agricultural wealth, forming a “green thread” connecting isolated settlements in space and time.

Wilkinson sets out on a slow boat downriver, from the First Cataract to Cairo, on a journey through seven thousand years of history from the vantage of the Nile itself.

He begins his journey where the river enters Egypt, at Aswan, which the ancient Egyptian’s believed to be the source of the Nile. In spite of the current turmoil, he sees a timelessness to life on the banks of the river, watching people farming and fishing as they have done throughout history, although perhaps there are a few more satellite dishes now than in ancient times. Sailing northwards, he looks across to the banks of the Nile where “every age has left its trace” and deftly weaves in and out of different moments in history as he floats by.

Thus at Aswan he describes Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s amazement at witnessing the seemingly impossible task of dragging boats across the rapids (the Egyptians succeeding in spite of noise, chaos and confusion, which Wilkinson – wryly – describes as their modus operandi then and now). He describes the final stand of Ankhwennefer, last native pharaoh of Egypt, forced to submit to Ptolemaic rule in 186 BC and then comments on how a sudden spattering of rain in the modern town delights local drivers as a rare chance to use their windscreen wipers.

At El Kab, Wilkinson sees the scenes in the tombs there come to life in the modern village, with cattle grazing under a tree and children riding home by donkey, noting that as much time has elapsed between now and the building of the ancient wall of El Kab as separates that wall from the mudbrick construction of Khasekhemwy’s ‘fort’ on the opposite bank, which he believes is “one of the great unsung wonders of the ancient world”.

Reaching Luxor, he describes the scramble for obelisks by Nineteenth Century European powers, the “modern roadside excrescences” on the West Bank and he narrates the stories of the almost forgotten Intef II – the founder of Karnak Temple, the infamous Deir el-Medina foreman Paneb, and Montuemhat, the “architect of Thebes’ very survival, at its darkest hour”. Heading past Amarna, Tuna el-Gebel and Asyut, we meet Emperor Hadrian, Petosiris High Priest of Thoth and Nazeer Gayed Roufail, who in 1971 became Coptic Pope Shenouda III.

After a quick stop off in the Fayum, we finally reach Cairo, an “unbelievable press of humanity” and setting for the recent ‘Arab Spring’ uprising.

Just sit back, relax and explore some of the highlights of Egyptian history with your personal guide on a leisurely armchair cruise.
Reviewed by ancientegyptmagazine dot com
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable and enlightening read, 21 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Hardcover)
I found this to be a very easy to read and enjoyable book. The author is so good at painting a picture with words. It was interesting to learn how the remains of the ancient world sit, both physically and culturally within the modern world, and it helps to explain how we have arrived at the current situation within Egypt. I think this would be an ideal book for anyone embarking on a Nile adventure, or who wants to know more about this fascinating place.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Having sailed down the Nile from Cairo to Aswan it's ..., 5 July 2014
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This review is from: The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Hardcover)
Having sailed down the Nile from Cairo to Aswan it's brings back many memories of a trip you can no longer do as a tourist, with the added fascination of the fast history that has shaped the river and the banks f the Nile.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 April 2015
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Another very interesting book about Egypt
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nile and further to the sea, 15 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present (Hardcover)
Rather stodgy. The information is all there but not very interestingly told.
For the avid Egyptologist rather than the casual reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 April 2014
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Bought as a present, liked
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The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present
The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present by Toby Wilkinson (Hardcover - 13 Feb. 2014)
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