The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson

This is probably the best book on ancient Egypt I have read so far. The author is clearly passionate about Egyptian civilization, but he acknowledges its dark side; for all its artistic and architectural achievements, it was a repressive autocracy that cannot have been pleasant for ordinary people to live under. The continuity of this civilization is extraordinary and makes the history of the United States seem like a mere blip in world history by comparison. This book is entirely history and fortunately leaves out any discussion of archaeology, which makes it much more readable and interesting than most works on egyptology. The historical record of ancient Egypt is quite sparse, but what survives is an incredible story. This book did a better job of bringing an often dry and dusty subject to life than any comparable book I have read.

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