This is not the Middle East of the early 21st century. It is Africa in the late 19th century, when the river Nile became the setting for an extraordinary collision between Europeans, Arabs, and Africans. A human and religious drama, the conflict defined the modern relationship between the West and the Islamic world. The story is not only essential for understanding the modern clash of civilizations but is also a gripping, epic, tragic adventure.
Three Empires on the Nile tells of the rise of the first modern Islamic state and its fateful encounter with the British Empire of Queen Victoria. Ever since the self-proclaimed Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi gathered an army in the Sudan and besieged and captured Khartoum under its British overlord Charles Gordon, the dream of a new caliphate has haunted modern Islamists. Today, Shiite insurgents call themselves the Mahdi Army, and Sudan remains one of the great battle lines between Muslims and Christians, blacks and Arabs. The 19th-century origins of it all were even more dramatic and strange than today's headlines.
In the hands of Dominic Green, the story of the Nile's three empires is an epic in the tradition of Kipling, the bard of empire, and Winston Churchill, who fought in the final destruction of the Mahdi's army. It is a sweeping and very modern tale of God and globalization, slavers and strategists, missionaries and messianists.
©2007 Dominic Green; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"Green...has written a formidable work....He succeeds in not only untangling the complex politics of the Great Powers as they reacted to the crisis along the Nile but also explaining the equally opaque motivations of the shadowy Mahdi and his followers as they pursued their jihad." (Publishers Weekly)
"Green achieves a vividly popular account of Britain's ascendance in Egypt and Sudan." (Booklist)
I've read many great books about the Middle East (by authors like Lawrence Wright, David Fromkin, Rory Stewart, Michael Oren, and Peter Hopkirk) and this one ranks right there with the best of them. Green is a masterful storyteller - I found myself running, cleaning, and doing my laundry solely to listen to it! As he crazy-glues you to the book (or your headphones in this case), Green deftly covers every important influence on the Nile watershed in the late nineteenth century - British, French, Egyptian, and Ottoman politics, slavery, the scramble for africa (Egypt wanted to be a colonial power too!), the British media, Sudanese religious practices, and great vignettes of about ten or so main characters. The only thing he leaves out is the American civil war veterans' quiet but profound influence on Egypt's military and education practices (see Oren's Power, Faith and Fantasy on that).
In addition, Stephen Hoy is one of my top 5 favorite narrators, and I've heard at least 25. His reading is awesome. You will love this book.
A very interesting history that gives a lot of the background to not only the personal history of some famous figures (like Winston Churchill), but also the origins of some of the greatest issues of our day (the rise of the Islamist fundamentalism underlying al-Qa'ida). The book contains some brilliant descriptions drawn from artfully chosen quotations of the original works and writings from key characters.
However, this book does not lend itself well to audio. The writing is scattered and it is difficult to follow. The book keeps jumping across timelines and years, with very poor "bridge" passages and almost no signposts to allow the listener to following the relationships between different pieces. It is nearly impossible to keep track of what events were happening when -- which things came first, and which follow. In the end, the audio book is a sometimes facinating collection of stories but does not hold together or flow as a history.
I like the narrative for the emotional framing rather than historical accuracy, emotional narrative makes a history very entertaining, so I'd suggest one to read this as a well researched historical novel than serious history, the book captured the spirit and inherent contradiction of British imperialism incredibly well. Loved it.
I really liked the way the author writes, very informative but not in a dull historical way. Was hard to put down my MP3 player at times. Well done. Gives a great look at a region in the world the west has had so much trouble in.
A beautifully read absorbing story of Khedives, Mahdis, imperialists, "Chinese" Gordon, Kitchener of Khartoum, the Sudan, the Suez Canal, etc. Today it's the Taliban, Darfur, Islamic fundamentalism and jihad. A timely book.
It also got me to rent the 1966 Charlton Heston, Laurence Olivier epic film "Khartoum" which is remarkably accurate.
The author is modern in his lack of reverence for the British "protectors" of Egypt but holds no phony politically correct view of militant Islam either.
Held my attention and the narrator was very easy on the ears.
Tells a fascinating and, among Americans, little-known story that is important in its own right and helps explain today's world situation. Extremely well-written and well-narrated.
The author stuck in details and missed the bigger picture. Lots of names, places and dates which made very difficult to concentrate on. Add to that the monotonous narrator and you lose interest pretty fast. Not worth it.
This is a comprehensive and compelling analysis of imperialism, as practiced by both the Ottomans and the British, and the reactions of both the nationalists and the religious fundamentalists. It also explores the tensions among the Europeans as well as among various African tribes.
The stories told resonate both for the current crisis in Darfur, as well as the mistakes made in Iraq.
Not a bad book, may have to read it again. If you have time to sit there and just listen, you will learn a lot...breaking the story into smaller listening bits (such as when commuting) makes the story hard to follow.....
Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg
Brings to life the fascinating history of this time and place like no other I have read and its astounding connection to the present circumstance. Wonderfully narrated too.
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