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Travesty posing as history
on 27 February 2011
This is a large and comprehensive work covering the whole history of Ancient Egypt. For that it is to be welcomed, as there is no really good up to date and comprehensive account of these fascinating 3000 years. For that reason I bought it. For that reason I read it What a waste of money! What a waste of time
It is seriously flawed. The author is a very poor writer. This work is neither authorative and academic nor merely popularist. The style has the vacuity of the latter, full of asides which are invariably obtrusive and cliched. The writer cannot resist banal comments. You can open the book on almost page and immediately be irritated by its blokey approach. The author is the Jamie Oliver of Egyptology. The work is jejune.
Worse than the writing is the content, or lack of it. This is almost a parody of condescension and prejudice. The assertions made are little more than unsupported conjecture. We should be told the bases on which conclusions are reached or conjectures made, and the two are not distinguished. When phrases such as 'no doubt' are routinely deployed you know that you are very much in an area of doubt. It is the most jaundiced and erroneous depiction of an extraordinary culture.His view of the pharoahs is entirely hostile: they are all tyrants, and their rule entirely despotic. They have no redeeming features. Such a judgment of a great civilisation which endured through millenia is fatuous.
Either the book could have been considerably shorter and tighter, and more lavishly illustrated, or the same length with the verbiage and hostility removed and replaced by better documentation and more balanced analysis and argument. But that would be another and better book by another and better scholar.
This alas is one of the worst and most annoying history books I have ever read.