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.
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