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Red Nile: The Biography of the World's Greatest River Hardcover – 23 May 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st Edition edition (23 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297866494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297866497
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.9 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 461,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Twigger's book on the history of the river Nile is one of the those unexpected great reads... This is a non-fiction book that reads like a great, page-turning novel. (CATHOLIC HERALD)

Red Nile is a scintillatingly colourful account of a river and a region that explorer/adventurer Twigger knows well... probably the author's magnum opus. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Red Nile by Robert Twigger is how history should be written and taught. The reader is taken on a sweeping journey through the endless story of the Nile, where so much began and so much is still happening. (Robin Hanbury-Tenison COUNTRY LIFE)

gives great insight into a place where the growth of civilisation is so closely lined to the power of nature. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

This torrent of tales sweeps up everything from hippos (the Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar kept four Nile hippos at his mansion in Medellín) to erotic papyrus. (The Daily Telegraph)

Robert Twigger's ambitious biography of the Nile is an unexpected triumph...a scintillatingly colourful account of a river and a region Twigger knows intimately...an elegiac moving book...hugely entertaining...probably the author's magnum opus (James McConnachie THE SUNDAY TIMES)

a tour de force; a brilliantly written scrapbook of history and travel, geography and science, myth and legend both ancient and modern... Twigger allows the river's ever changing shape to inform this engrossing biography. It's a vast subject but he never becomes overwhelmed by the material and has written an elegant, amusing and fascinating book, buoyed by his own enthusiasm, that draws you along in its current (Carl Wilkinson FINANCIAL TIMES)

Like the vast, fast-flowing river itself with its waters teeming with crocodiles, hippopotami and bilharzia, so Red Nile teems with arcane facts and high spirited asides... Red Nile provides a feast of quirky, fascinating bits of knowledge, both funny and memorable (Caroline Moorehead THE SPECTATOR)

Crocodiles, dams, feluccas, pharaohs and papyrus, disputation about sources, literary and riverine, myths and realities of fecundity: only someone as crazy as Robert Twigger would attempt to tell the whole story of the Nile from soup to nuts, yet in Red Nile that's exactly what he has done, filtering the vast flood of his subject matter through an infectious individual style (Giles Foden CONDE NAST TRAVELLER)

Using the physical presence of the river, the tumultuous recent events that have occurred along it and his own experiences... Twigger succeeds in capturing the key features of Africa's greatest river: that it is wide-reaching as it is long, touches every era of human history, from nobility to the baseless violence that has so often stained the waters red (Anthony Sattin THE SUNDAY TIMES)

the Nile's own source has always been mysterious - in the Ethiopian highlands of in the Kagera River, which flows into Lake Victoria and on into the Nile proper, or in Lake Tanganyika? This is one of the previously unanswered questions tackled by Robert Twigger in this impressive book - a biography of the River Nile. [Twigger] knows the geography of this region well and is equally au fait with its turbulent history...many entertaining snippets of information (Theo Walden THE LADY)

if you have read Twigger before, you will know to expect divergence, wit, a weakness with the esoteric, an ability to make even the most obscure details seem relevant. All of which is perfectly suited to this subject and makes for an entertaining and absorbing read (THE OBSERVER)

Hugely impressive in its research, Red Nile is a torrent of fanatical rulers, assassinations, wild explorers and dastardly goings-on (Philip Marsden MAIL ON SUNDAY)

The Nile has attracted adventurers since ancient times, and Twigger heads for the source of the river... The history of the river and the countries it passes through is interwoven with many interesting snippets - for example that Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat said that the "attractive lines of the slim-fit uniform would be spoilt by wearing a bullet-proof vest" on the day he was assassinated (Tom Chesshyre THE TIMES)

Red Nile's mixture of factual and fictional narratives of heroic adventurers, lost tribes, vanished cities, trackless forests and lethal wildlife brought me back to the pleasures I derived as a child from reading old copies of the Boy's Own Paperand Chums Annual (TLS)

Taking a characteristically idiosyncratic approach, [Twigger] tells the river's history through its most colourful stories, from Egypt's racy mythology to the visionaries and madmen who have plied its waters. Combining wide-ranging knowledge with first-hand forays upstream, it's a suitably Nilean accomplishment. A meandering insight of genuine depth (LONELY PLANET TRAVELLER)

In Twigger's biography of 'the world's greatest river', he tackles the source of ancient Biblical tales through to exploring the downfall of Mubarak. There's enough bloody, treacherous history to make Game of Thrones look like a Mr Men book, which is to say that it's a relentlessly good read...a fresh revitalising dunk into these much-navigated waters (WANDERLUST)

Explorer Robert Twigger has sailed Canada in a birch-bark canoe and walked the Egyptian Sahara. Now, he explores the Nile, taking in traces left by Cleopatra, Moses, Agatha Christie and the world's deadliest creature, the Nile crocodile (CARA (AER LINGUS) magazine)

You'd be right to think that the world's longest river would have enough history to fill a book 12 times this size. Fortunately, that's the delight of Twigger's latest work: it filters out the drab and pumps in the peculiar without missing any crucial undulations along the way. Expect tales of passion, violence and splendour (EASYJET TRAVELLER INFLIGHT MAGAZINE)

a compelling take on thousands of years of life on the banks of the world's longest river ... Twigger - an engaging author whose CV includes training in martial arts with the Tokyo riot police and an attempt to capture a nine-metre-long python - provides us with a leisurely, readable collection of stories that introduce us to a wide cast of authors and explorers, fierce baboons and murderous crocodiles (Joyce Tyldesley BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE)

Twigger has lived in Cairo for seven years, is married to an Egyptian and stares at the Nile every day from his study; he has fallen in the Nile, swum the Nile, drunk the waters of the Nile, kayaked and rafted, and travelled the length of it by plane. He is, in fact, an Old Hand, Twigger of the Nile... Rambling, discursive, chatty, anecdotal, funny... it's a series of ripping yarns, and highly entertaining... I think Twigger may have invented a new genre - the Ramblelogue (Robert Carver THE INDEPENDENT)

Intrepid and amusing, Twigger delivers a deeper (and happier) view of Egypt - and its neighbours - than today's headlines allow. With its lavish cargo of histories, myths and full-on ripping yarns, his journey down the river flows fast and strong (i NEWSPAPER)

this book will teach you a great deal: from the wisdom of avoiding hippos, crocodiles and baboons to the central role played by the river in the earliest stages of human history...Twigger's accounts are both reliable and entertaining...this is a wide-ranging and well-researched book. All of the usual suspects are here - from Cleopatra to the Rosetta Stone - but Twigger has unearthed an impressive number of neglected facts and tales (Jonathan Wright GEOGRAPHICAL)

fuses history and geography with a travelogue and cultural history of the peoples who have made their home along the river, and it gives great insight into a place where the growth of civilisation is so closely linked to the power of nature (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

All to Twigger's credit, his masterful and enthusiastic prose guides readers on a pleasing passage through the river's unbelievable past, from biblical tales to the recent Arab spring. He strikes the perfect balance, creatively covering crucial elements while leaving out the lacklustre and pouring in plenty of gripping stories. Loaded with interesting asides...Red Nile is also disarmingly charming and witty at times. Twigger's years of literary research and on-the-ground experience in Africa shine through in this tour de force (TRAVEL AFRICA)

Twigger treats us to an entertaining and idiosyncratic journey from prehistoric and ancient times right up to the Arab Spring. This is a book that will satisfy both the serious student and the casual reader. The former will delight in a close reading of the text and will learn a lot from what is, in essence, a serious academic study. The latter will enjoy dipping into it and the many anecdotes, and the author's humorous turn of phrase... Highly recommended (HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW)

Red Nile's mixture of factual and fictional narratives of heroic adventurers, lost tribes, vanished cities, trackless forests and lethal wildlife brought me back to the pleasures I derived as a child from reading old copies of the Boy's Own Paper and Chums Annual (TLS)

Book Description

An intimate biography of one of the world's natural wonders.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't want this book to end. Twigger approaches his subject with meticulous research and infectious enthusiasm. His anecdotes, historical and descriptive passages are second to none. I felt I was reading a book by a real expert and someone with both the imagination and the ability to bring in many tales which, even though some only lightly touched the Nile as subject matter, still came across as gripping and valid. I was incredulous that the high standard he began with continued unceasingly throughout the book. Taking into account its great length this was a feat in itself. I would unreservedly recommend this to everyone and may yet buy the hardback so I can have it on the bookshelves as well as on the Kindle. It is a darned good read and one to keep you occupied through grim winter evenings and to reread again often.
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Format: Hardcover
Red Nile proves once again Robert Twigger a master of prose. Having loved his adventure books, most notably Voyageur - Across the Rocky Mountains in a Birchbark Canoe (2006), I wasn't sure whether I'd like this one as much. Very pleasantly surprised. The book is exhaustively researched but not at all laborious to read. To the contrary! Full of fun facts and fascinating anecdotes, the book is a treasure-trove of information and skips along with the author's signature writing style. My 78-year-old mother hasn't put the book down either since I gave it to her.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book quite staggering - both in its breadth and in the beauty of its writing. Twigger hasn't just lived the Nile, he's done the research. A massive amount of research - hundreds of books, and it is these which make up the spine of Red Nile. But Twigger strings it all together brilliantly. So many of these quasi-biographies are stuffy academic tomes, but Twigger's tone is, throughout, light and effortless. He brings with it, of course, his own deeply personal knowledge of the Nile that he has gleaned from his years in Egypt. This is a stunningly good book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a marvellous writer he is. He notices stuff of interest wherever he looks. And he communicates a sense of meaning so you feel the world's bounds loosen and enlightenment creep in. I read the book slowly, savouring it, sometimes just a short section a day (- you can dip in and out though there are threads of continuity.
I didn't know I would be interested by a river's biography - how wrong I was.
I cant resist quoting a couple of section headings;
section 18 of part 2: "Christian mob murder attractive female philosopher"
section 35 of part 5: "Iroquois Indians on the River Nile" (yes there were - worth getting the book just for this)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Twigger's book The Red Nile is about as far from a dry
geographical thesis or a plodding chronology as you can get. True, the
history is there, after all this is the home of some of the most ancient
human civilisations, but it is cleverly linked through to experiences of
some of the larger-than-life characters that have tried to subjugate
either the people of the Nile or the river itself. A fascinating cast of
rulers, conquerors, explorers, engineers, con-men and bizarre eccentrics
are brought to life against the ever flowing backdrop of the river
itself.

Twigger is married to an Egyptian and lived for many years in Cairo
giving him sharp insights into the impact of events that have been
played out along the length of the river. He also witnessed the
beginnings of the uprising that ultimately lead to democratic elections
in the country; bringing the history of the Nile right up to date.

At its heart this is a book of stories; but stories that have been
extremely well researched and brilliantly told.
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Format: Hardcover
In a parallel world of Story the River Nile is red, the colour of blood, passion and fertile silt. This book is a summer indundation of spellbinding stories, told by polymath, explorer and writer of beautiful lucid prose, Robert Twigger. Some of it I read aloud to my husband and his verdict included the words `superb' and `outstanding.'

The distance covered is vast, on scales of both time and space. The physical Nile may have one of its sources in the Mountains of the Moon, where giant lobelias have flower spikes over fifteen feet long; but the Red Nile has a tributary in the land of the Iraquois Indians. In time it stretches from when the great river cascaded six miles down into the Tethys Sea (as the Mediterranean was called in ancient times) to the recent past and the uprising which deposed Mubarak.

Into this mighty time-space basin drain stories of ancient pharaohs, mad caliphs, alchemists and cruel sultans. Mamluks, Ottomans, European explorers, generals, colonisers and novelists follow; while battles and genocide ensure that the red of the Red Nile does not fade. For Robert Twigger there are no taboos.

This book is not just entertainment. For me it was an eduation in history for which I am deeply grateful.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Fun to read, witty, engaging, thoughtful, provocative,and illuminating. The sheer scale of the topic is staggering; one could easily feel inundated with the extraordinary volume of information coursing through the pages of this book. Yet with the sure and deft touch of a master storyteller, Twigger artfully separates the currents of geographical, social, political, domestic, and personal histories into channels that offer clarity and insight while never losing touch with the complexity that unites the flows of time and destiny. Like the great river itself, sometimes meandering, sometimes torrential, sometimes lost in the swamp, this book breathes life into history and the human condition. One of Twigger's best.
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