I liked this one even more than I did Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt, probably mostly because while Red Land, Black Land covers the daily life of Regular Joe ancient Egyptians, this book covers the monuments and tombs and personalities I was already familiar with. Also, I will admit that I was mostly familiar with the aforementioned monuments and tombs and personalities from reading the author's Amelia Peabody series--heh! It was fun to go back and visit places Amelia and Emerson had been in those books--the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, Deir el-Bahri, el-Amarna... And like I said about Red Land, Black Land, Mertz lends the same sense of humor to her non-fiction books that she does to her fiction, and I found her ocassional sarcastic or snarky or tongue-in-cheek comments amusing and delightful. Well worth a read, for Peabody fans, or for anyone interested in ancient Egyptian history.
The title of this book - Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs – led me to think it was about the various temples constructed in Egypt, how they were built, how they were used, how the pyramids were built, what current scholarship believed to be the purpose of the various interior spaces and, perhaps, a description of Jean Francois Champollion's successful efforts to decipher the hieroglyphs. Instead what I found was an overview of the thirty or so Egyptian dynasties and, along with that, a brief history of Egypt.
I don't want to be misunderstood. The information provided is interesting and well presented. The overview of the Egyptian dynasties was informative and Ms Mertz's explanation of what is known and, perhaps more importantly, what is not known and why it is not know, was very helpful to me as a casual reader. I found the competing ideas as to what happened and why to be of great interest. Still, the book did not address those questions which the title led me to believe were the contents of the book.
Ms Raver's narration is superb and the content both interesting and, at times, witty. However, after finishing the book, I am left with almost all of the questions I had when I bought the book – what does current scholarship say about the interior rooms of the pyramids? How were the tombs discovered? What is the history of the archeological efforts in Egypt? How were the hieroglyphs deciphered (yes, I know about the Rosetta Stone, but it would have been nice to have some information on the effort and process itself)? Who were the main Egyptians involved in the design and building of the pyramids? What processes were used in the construction? What efforts were made to protect those buried from tomb robbers? Why did those efforts fail so badly? And many more.
Given that this book did not cover what the title implied I felt compelled to give it no more than 3 stars. However the narration was so good that I decided that 3 12/ stars would be better. Since I cannot give it what I would like I settled on 4 stars. This is, I fear, too much.
I got this book based on other recommendations. I love to listen to history and wanted to like this based on what I had read from other reviewers. While it does have some interesting parts, it just becomes too cute by far sometimes. The attempt at humor gets old. I would have preferred a little more history and little less author's opinion.
I had the pleasure of travelling through Egypt and this book was able to fill in some gaps. The narrator is excellent and Barbara Mertz is a master story-teller. She is able to mix facts with fiction and humour, which is the perfect combination to keep one listening.
You would think the narrator had written the material herself for she is so lively and in tune with the text. She did such a good job of telling the story I kept falling asleep before the chapter ended (I listen in bed before sleeping) and I mean that glowingly. It is like being told secrets by an eccentric aunt who loves her field and who has a firm foundation in what is fact and what is guess-work and is always on point to differentiate between the two. I love reading about ancient Greece and Rome but never yet ventured into Egyptian territory and I am glad I listened to the other reviewers. I just downloaded another book by this author/narrator pairing which I can not wait to start!
Ecitement, understanding and pace. This could have all been read so dryly. Fantastic job. Best yet I've heard in the history genre.
Get it - you won't regret it!
I'd love to meet Barbara Mertz someday. You fall in love with her personality in this book. And Lorna Raver was just the perfect choice for the tone of this lovely book. Great listening, very entertaining, and a fun topic.
More interesting than the subject matter is the author's peculiar style. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of the reading.