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Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1899 | [Dominic Green]

Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1899

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. The 19th-century origins of it all were even more dramatic and strange than today's headlines.
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Publisher's Summary

A secular regime is toppled by Western intervention, but an Islamic backlash turns the liberators into occupiers. Caught between interventionists at home and fundamentalists abroad, a prime minister flounders as his ministers betray him, alliances fall apart, and a runaway general makes policy in the field. As the media accuse Western soldiers of barbarity and a region slides into chaos, the armies of God clash on an ancient river, and an accidental empire arises.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (109 )
5 star
 (33)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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4.2 (30 )
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  •  
    Sean O'Keefe 05-05-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Astoundingly good"

    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.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 07-17-10
    Chi-Hung Riverside, CA, USA 07-17-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    563
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    "An narrative that captured the spirit of an age"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Reston, VA, USA 11-26-07
    Richard Reston, VA, USA 11-26-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Good, not great"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IVFarmboy CA United States 07-15-07
    IVFarmboy CA United States 07-15-07 Member Since 2004

    desertrat

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very pertinent today"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lector Curiosus New York 05-16-09
    Lector Curiosus New York 05-16-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An old story, recent as todat's news"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carleton Medford, NJ, United States 07-24-10
    Carleton Medford, NJ, United States 07-24-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "An extraordinary book"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nikolas Manchester, NH, USA 07-13-10
    Nikolas Manchester, NH, USA 07-13-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "Dull"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 11-30-07
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 11-30-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    289
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    10
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    Overall
    "Masterful"

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Darnestown, MD, USA 10-27-07
    Christine Darnestown, MD, USA 10-27-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not bad, a bit dense, though...."

    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.....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 11-09-07
    William Bainbridge Island, WA, United States 11-09-07 Member Since 2007

    Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg

    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "Superb"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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