The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson

80%

7 Critic Reviews

Wilkinson's unsparing account reminds us that we should always look beyond a society's comforting myths and dazzling monuments to examine its actual deeds.
-LA Times

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In this landmark work, one of the world’s most renowned Egyptologists tells the epic story of this great civilization, from its birth as the first nation-state to its final absorption into the Roman Empire—three thousand years of wild drama, bold spectacle, and unforgettable characters.

Award-winning scholar Toby Wilkinson captures not only the lavish pomp and artistic grandeur of this land of pyramids and pharaohs but for the first time reveals the constant propaganda and repression that were its foundations. Drawing upon forty years of archaeological research, Wilkinson takes us inside an exotic tribal society with a pre-monetary economy and decadent, divine kings who ruled with all-too-recognizable human emotions.

Here are the years of the Old Kingdom, where Pepi II, made king as an infant, was later undermined by rumors of his affair with an army general, and the Middle Kingdom, a golden age of literature and jewelry in which the benefits of the afterlife became available for all, not just royalty—a concept later underlying Christianity. Wilkinson then explores the legendary era of the New Kingdom, a lost world of breathtaking opulence founded by Ahmose, whose parents were siblings, and who married his sister and transformed worship of his family into a national cult. Other leaders include Akhenaten, the “heretic king,” who with his wife Nefertiti brought about a revolution with a bold new religion; his son Tutankhamun, whose dazzling tomb would remain hidden for three millennia; and eleven pharaohs called Ramesses, the last of whom presided over the militarism, lawlessness, and corruption that caused a crucial political and societal decline.

Riveting and revelatory, filled with new information and unique interpretations, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt will become the standard source about this great civilization, one that lasted—so far—longer than any other.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Toby Wilkinson

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Toby Wilkinson graduated with a first class honors degree in Egyptology from Downing College, University of Cambridge, winning the university's Thomas Mulvey prize. He is the recipient of the Lady Wallis Budge Junior Research Fellowship in Egyptology, a Leverhulme Trust Special Research Fellowship, and an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Durham. He is currently at Clare College in the University of Cambridge. Wilkinson has published seven books and numerous articles, and has appeared on radio and television as an expert on ancient Egyptian civilization (especially the early periods). He is the recipient of the Antiquity Prize for the best journal article and is a member of the international editorial board of the Journal of Egyptian History.
 
Published March 15, 2011 by Random House. 656 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt
All: 7 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Dec 02 2010

Wilkinson’s impressive depth of knowledge allows him to sift the historical and archaeological records of a staggering 30-plus dynasties, producing a vigorous survey of this unparalleled civilization.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Mar 28 2011

Mr. Wilkinson is nimble at conveying the sumptuous pageantry and cultural sophistication of pharaohnic Egypt...this book draws a sobering portrait of what daily life was like for ordinary Egyptians.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Joseph Manning on Mar 19 2011

The author also brings us, intimately sometimes, into a world of everyday Egyptians, one revealed only in the last century by the work of scholars systemically studying Egyptian material culture.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Joseph Manning on Mar 19 2011

With a literary flair and a sense for a story well told, Mr. Wilkinson offers a highly readable, factually up-to-date account of what we know about Egyptian political history.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Wendy Smith on Mar 13 2011

Wilkinson's unsparing account reminds us that we should always look beyond a society's comforting myths and dazzling monuments to examine its actual deeds.

Read Full Review of The Rise and Fall of Ancient ... | See more reviews from LA Times

Dallas News

Above average
Reviewed by Kathryn Lang on May 06 2011

Wilkinson’s is a full and rich, if hurried, march through the centuries of ancient Egypt’s glory days and ultimate domination by newer superpowers.

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Milo's Rambles

Good
on Sep 29 2010

Wilkinson covers so much more in this involving and magnificent history of Ancient Egypt from its military might, the ruthlessness of Ramesses, and the civil war that tore Egypt apart. Add to that a wonderful assortment of illustrations; “The Rise and fall of Ancient Egypt” is without doubt the premier narrative on Egyptology available today.

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