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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 5 October 2012
This book is amazing! It is a comprehensive history of ancient Egypt. I thought I knew about Ancient Egypt before I read this book but it turned out that all I knew about were the cliches and famous museum exhibits. The truth is far more subtle, intriguing, grand and monumental. It is written in everyday language, too - not overly academic sounding. I actually want to visit the country now or at least pay a visit to the British Museum.
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on 11 August 2010
there is a lot of information in this book , once you start the book your can't put the book down . I highly recommend this book for any people who are interested in the first king to the last queen.
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on 2 March 2015
Loving the history of ancient Egypt this gave a great insight into the timeline of the dynasties and the changes to the society through out the period.
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on 10 February 2012
From first picking this book up, it became difficult every time I had to put it down. The combination of fluid, easy writing and the fact that this book is packed to the rafters with interesting, engaging material meant it quickly became a page-turner. Toby Wilkinson does chronicle pharaonic Egypt chronologically from pre-dynastic period to annexation into the Roman empire, a format which may appear simplistic, but which in this case is clear and logical, and allows the reader to comprehend later events in their proper context, building upon past precedents, and demonstrating how pharaonic Egypt shifted and evolved over its duration.

This may be a popular history, but Wilkinson also writes in academia, and knows his stuff - the bibliography provides every possible authoritative work that a reader might wish for to engage in further study of the topics presented, and, as a new publication with a professional academic for an author, the book is tightly researched and up-to-date. In a bit of a glass-half-full-or-glass-half-empty situation, there were certain areas where I felt like Wilkinson provided only an overview and I wanted to know more, but on the other hand at other times Wilkinson provided me with all sorts of new information and interpretations.

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt is a solid overview of pharaonic Egypt, highly recommended for beginners and amateurs.
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on 29 March 2014
Having not studied Egyptian history since I was in Year 3 of primary school I feel I can, with some confidence, call myself a beginner in the subject. I downloaded this book to my Kindle with near enough zero background knowledge on the subject after seeing it in a book shop and thinking 'Egyptian history! That was vaguely interesting all those years ago!'

Sure enough I found it to be a compelling romp through 3000 years. The well known names such as Tutankhamun, Rameses II and Cleopatra are all there along with hundreds of others that I'd never heard of. Wilkinson also talks us through the history of the building of the pyramids, the (many) foreign invasions and battles and the importance of the gods throughout the entire history. The book is neatly divided into five distinct parts and each chapter has smaller sections that make it easy if you only have 10 minutes or so to have a quick read.

What I did like about this book is that it never gets bogged down in unnecessary detail. Of course there are some chapters that are a little slower, such as the ones that list new buildings that Pharaohs would commission or improve, and exactly how they would adorn their tombs etc. But at no point does it get boring. The small sections in the chapters ensure that if you're finding one part a little slow going, you'll be on to the next part in no time.

Wilkinson does skim over a lot of years and in some cases entire dynasties, but this is no complaint. With 3000 years of history to cover it would hardly be possible to have a section dedicated to each and every Pharaoh (and as the extensive timeline at the beginning shows us, there are a LOT), especially when a lot of them only lasted 2 or 3 years. There are a plethora of names which can become confusing at times, but the pace is fairly quick so you usually only have to turn back 3 or 4 pages to remind yourself of just who that confusing name belonged to. The timeline at the beginning can be very helpful with this, especially when Wilkinson decides to bring up Pharaohs from several hundred years ago, which he does do quite often. The timeline also helps when you're trying to remind yourself of just which of the 15 Ptolemys was the one who did this, that or the other thing, to name one example.

One criticism I've seen a lot in these reviews is how Wilkinson constantly reminds the reader of how tyrannical the Pharaohs were. Personally it didn't bother me, In fact I hardly noticed it. If anything I'd have liked to know more about the despotism and how they affected the common people.

So to wrap it up, highly recommended for a beginner. I'm not a historical academic so I can't say how it would compare in that respect, but it kept me hooked throughout. Most interesting parts for me were the building of the first Pyramids, the Hyksos invasion, the heretical Pharaoh Akhenaten, the battles of Rameses III and Cleopatra's fatal affair with Rome.

This book certainly did not disappoint. Good show Mr Wilkinson!
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on 11 March 2013
I think that if we has been introduced to this book when I was at school I would have paid a lot more attention in class, plus how much more interesting the History lesson would have been.
Beautiful book,beautifully laid out.
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on 1 February 2013
Always been interested in ancient Egypt. Found the book interesting and attractively written. It could easily arose an interest in Egypt for someone reading about it for the first time
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on 23 July 2015
Excellent book. In depth, well written and engaging, which is important in a book spanning the length of Egyptian history! Great read
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on 1 June 2015
a very good book for those that want a book that covers a large subject,from early years(bc) until later years(ad)
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on 2 September 2013
I can't say enough good things about this book! I genuinely enjoyed reading it. The author has put the history of ancient Egypt into such a wonderfully flowing, insightful form, making it meaningful and rational and really WORTH studying. I consider this book a gem. I was quite disappointed to find that the author hasn't written any such books on other historical periods or cultures... I would have ought them immediately.
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