The Blue Nile Paperback – 28 Jul 1983
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"AN EXCITING AND UNUSUAL BOOK". -- NEW YORK TIMES
"A Masterpiece."--"Newsweek"An Exciting and Unusual Book."--"New York Times"Utterly absorbing, sweeping as the mighty river itself...A magnificent, gripping story."--"The Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
In the first half of the 19th century, only a small handful of Westerners had ventured into the regions watered by the Nile River on its long journey from Lake Tana in Abyssinia to the Mediterranean -- lands that had been forgotten since Roman times, or had never been known at all. In The Blue Nile, Alan Moorehead continues the classic, thrilling narration of adventure he began in The White Nile, depicting this exotic place through the lives of four explores so daring they can be considered among the world's original adventures -- each acting and reacting in separate expeditions against a bewildering background of slavery and massacre, political upheaval, and all-out war. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The book is made up of four parts:
1. The travels to Ethiopia by the arrogant yet imposing aristocrat Bruce, who found the source of the Blue Nile (although 16th century Portuguese arguably did that already a few centuries before)
2. Napoleon's Egyptian adventure and his defeat of the Mamelukes
3. The rise of Muhammad Ali in Egypt and his conquest of the Sudan
4. Theodore of Ethiopia, his madness and Napier's liberation of the hostages at Magdala
Its companion 'The White Nile' deals with finding the source of the White Nile as well as with Gordon - Kitchener - Omdurman.
There is a huge amount of phenomenally interesting material and the writing is off the scale fantastic. To me the most unknown bit was the third part. Muhammad Ali rose as a warlord/gangster in the chaotic Egypt after the French involuntarily left. He became an important figure, as his modernized Egypt started to threaten the Ottoman Empire (taking over much of the Middle East in the process, in addition to conquering Sudan in an attempt get the slave trade going again), eventually triggering an international crisis when the European powers got involved. Before that, his son Ibrahim played a large role in the Greek revolt (it was Ibrahim's navy that got thrashed at Navarino). It would have been nice if Moorehead had expanded a bit on the exploits of this dynasty outside Africa - frankly that's the only flaw I could find in this awesome book.
On to the White Nile!
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.
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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