©2007 MPM Manor, Inc.; (P)2007 Tantor
Audible listener since the late 1990s. I mostly listen to science fiction, fantasy, history, and science.
This book is brilliantly written, wonderfully read, and is sprinkled with lots of wry humor -- all of which is especially impressive as it is a rather fact-filled history of Ancient Egypt. The overall effect is something like a Bill Bryson book (say, A Short History of Nearly Everything), only more thorough and academic, and with a much lighter authorial touch. Everything is here: the details of archaeological dating, the characters behind the archaeology, and the progression of the long history of Pharonic Egypt. I am not quite done with the book yet, but already am sad that it will be ending.
Dr. Barbara Mertz, who wrote the book, received her PhD in Egyptology at the University of Chicago in the 1950s. She wrote this book in the mid-1960s, though it has been updated, apparently, for this audiobook (though I cannot confirm this is the case). From other reviews of the book, I gather that the material in it still reflects current thinking in the field, though some details may have changed. Interestingly, Dr. Mertz is better known for her fiction, she also writes under the names Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, and she has written many suspense novels as well as the Amelia Peabody, Vicky Bliss, and Jacqueline Kirby series of archeology novels. Her deft touch with words shows in this book, which I highly recommend!
This is written incredibly well and the narration is a treat. Are you supposed to laugh out loud at a history book? You will at this one. Are you supposed to stay up late because you can't wait to hear what she's got to say next? You'll do that, too. Usually I don't like to listen to history (the narrators tend to put me to sleep) but I am happy to have this in my Audible library.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
Here's what gives such credibility to the Amelia Peabody historical mysteries set in Egypt. Barbara Mertz and Elizabeth Peters are one and the same. And what credentials she has for giving us this remarkable "popular" history!
Mertz is not afraid to use humor in a serious book about the history of Egypt. But, the account is also accurate and full of fascinating information. Who says a scholar can't also be a master of fiction? The narrator adds a lot as well. This is a great listen!
I thoroughly enjoyed this history of Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz. She was able to bring the historical characters and times to life without sacrificing her scholarly ethics - she always carefully explained her own prejudices and opinions to the reader. Her excellence as a writer is undeniable, and one can see why she went on to be such a popular author. And also, her scholarship explains why her popular books were so good.
I also found it helpful in reading the book to rent the hard copy from the library and follow along with the maps and plates. For example, where is Abydos and the cataracts of the Nile? While I was at it, I also rented the book Red Land, Black Land, which was also written by Mertz in the 1960's about all aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. My library just happened to have an original edition of the book.
I love a good book about ancient history. This is an excellent look into Egyptian history written and narrated in a very satisfying way. I totally enjoyed this book and found out more about Egypt than I had known.
This was my second download with Audible.
The writing and narration are terrific. I've always appreciated a witty (and dry) turn of phrase. 'Dry', however, is NOT how I'd describe this audio book! It is rich with imagery and information.
If you have any interest in ancient Egypt or archaeology, this is a must!
This is the best historical audiobook I've ever listened to, and I've listened to a lot of them. The content is wonderfully accessible and the narrator is a delight. It's like listening to your grandmother tell a great story...if your grandmother had an advanced degree in Egyptology.
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.
A fascinating and informing look at one of the greatest empires the world has known. 5000 years of history at your fingertips. Ms. Mertz brings this era to life in her book and Lorna Raver sounds like she authored the book - giving it great credibility and authentic feel!
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.
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