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The Nile Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present by Toby Wilkinson

The Nile Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present

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Sue Baker's view...

An exploration of the River Nile, whose waters form the heart, the centre of Egypt for the ancient tribes who first made their mark in the desert rocks to today with the Nile supporting over 84 million people. This is a journey through time and space, looking back at the history, the geography and geology that have formed the Nile valley but also giving us a view of Egypt today and its fragility and uncertain future. An excellent study that brings ancient and modern Egypt together; as an historian specialising in Ancient Egypt Toby Wilkinson presents a clear and absorbing history.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. The Nile was the spring that fed Egyptian civilisation, which, in turn, proved a strong foundation for that of the late Greeks and Romans. It has seen wars of conquest, foreign soldiers, missionaries and explorers, religious strife, and the incessant bickering of rival ideologies. But it remains a great river within a great country. Wilkinson voyages down the Nile to Cairo, using the trip as a canvas to sketch out Egypt’s convoluted course through history. It makes an impressive read.
~ The Good Book Guide


The Nile Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present by Toby Wilkinson

From Herodotus's day to the present political upheavals, the steady flow of the Nile has been Egypt's heartbeat. It has shaped its geography, controlled its economy and moulded its civilisation. The same stretch of water which conveyed Pharaonic battleships, Ptolemaic grain ships, Roman troop-carriers and Victorian steamers today carries modern-day tourists past bankside settlements in which rural life - fishing, farming, flooding - continues much as it has for millennia. At this most critical juncture in the country's history, foremost Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson takes us on a journey up the Nile, north from Lake Victoria, from Cataract to Cataract, past the Aswan Dam, to the delta. The country is a palimpsest, every age has left its trace: as we pass the Nilometer on the island of Elephantine which since the days of the Pharaohs has measured the height of Nile floodwaters to predict the following season's agricultural yield and set the parameters for the entire Egyptian economy, the wonders of Giza which bear the scars of assault by nineteenth-century archaeologists and the modern-day unbridled urban expansion of Cairo - and in Egypt's earliest art (prehistoric images of fish-traps carved into cliffs) and the Arab Spring (fought on the bridges of Cairo) - the Nile is our guide to understanding the past and present of this unique, chaotic, vital, conservative yet rapidly changing land.


'Toby Wilkinson is an acclaimed Cambridge-based Egyptologist and the author of seminal books on life in ancient Egypt. His take on ancient and colonial history is impeccable ... His ancient sources are as thorough and as fascinating as any I have ever read ... Wilkinson's eye for significant detail, his great curiosity about and affection for his subject, justify the retelling ... The most compelling parts are the ones where Wilkinson draws on his extensive knowledge of Egypt's ancient past.' Anthony Sattin, Observer

'Without the River Nile there would be no Egypt. That might seem like entry-level geography, but Toby Wilkinson's achievement in his enjoyable survey of the Egyptian Nile's key stretch from Aswan to Cairo is to illustrate the point so compellingly ... Dexterously done and rich in detail ... Brilliant' Sunday Telegraph

'Thorough, erudite and enthusiastic . Wilkinson does his best to bring the ancient Egyptians to life, and he is a great authority on the subject' Sunday Times

'I had always presumed, before I read Wilkinson's book, that it was impossible to write a history of Egypt which combined scholarship, accessibility, and a genuine sense of revelation. I was wrong' Tom Holland, Observer

'The foremost Egyptologist of his time ... shares his erudition with us in easy prose which never talks down to us, bringing those times and places splendidly to life' Nicholas Bagnall, Sunday Telegraph

'The eminent Egyptologist from Cambridge University blends contemporary description with digestible doses of history and anecdote from the time of the Pharaohs to the present day. The book is made timely by a reference to recent events' Independent

About the Author

Toby Wilkinson read Egyptology at Cambridge University and has been hailed by The Daily Telegraph as 'the foremost Egyptologist of his time'. Since January 2004 he has been a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. He is a member of the international editorial board of the Journal of Egyptian History, and has broadcast on radio and television in the UK and abroad on topics connected with Egypt, ancient and modern. He is the author of seven books including The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt (2010) which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was recommended as a book of the year by critics on both sides of the Atlantic. He is currently Head of the International Strategy Office at the University of Cambridge and lives in Suffolk.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th February 2015


Toby Wilkinson

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


352 pages


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