Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
14 - 20 September 2000
Issue No. 499
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

BOOKS: a monthly supplement of Al-Ahram Weekly

Latest Books

Sir- I wonder if you would be kind enough to permit me to point out to your readers the latest books available on Egypt and the region.

First of all there is Edward Lane's long "lost" Description of Egypt. This is basically a travelogue that recounts Lane's travels in Egypt and Nubia. Written after his first research trip to Egypt from 1825 to 1828. There is also an interesting chapter on Mohamed Ali which I greatly enjoyed reading.

All praise and thanks should be directed to AUC's Jason Thompson who has saved the book for posterity. But I am very puzzled indeed by the spelling of Arabic names. Can Giza really be written as El-Geezeh? And Soliman El-Bawab as Sooleyman El-Baouwab? Mohamed Ali as Mohham'mad 'Alee Ba'sha? Even I have to struggle to get to the end of a name. Bearing in mind this is not the spelling used by Lane in his Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians , is this Prof Thomson's idea? (AUC Press, Cairo. pp598).

Next comes Egypt's Sun King: Amenhotep III by Joan Fletcher. This delightful book charts the life of the remarkable yet little known Egyptian pharaoh. It was during his reign that some of the greatest architecture and works of art of Ancient Egypt were produced. An interesting read (Duncan Bard Publishers, pp176).

Still with Ancient Egypt we come to Judgement of the Pharaoh: Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley.

This relative newcomer in the field has become my favourite author. I have read all her books on Ancient Egypt and was delighted with each one. In this book Joyce reveals a great deal about the Egyptian legal system at the time and the society it served. She deals with everything from grave robbing to necrophilia and shows just how sophisticated the Egypian system of law was. An absorbing and enlightening read. (Weidenffeld and Nicolson, pp320).

We move on to the era of the Crusades with The Templars by Piers Paul Read. In his highly readable account, the author describes the Templars, a multi-national force of warrior monks that was the most powerful military order of the Crusades and the first uniformed standing army in the Western world. Sustaining the Templar's military role in Palestine was a powerful corporation which prospered from the efficient management of vast estates. Expropriated by the French King Philip IV in 1307 and confessing under torture to blasphemy, heresy and sodomy the order was finally suppressed by Pope Clement V in 1312. (Weidafeld and Nicolson, pp350)

Finally, we come to Israel by Gilbert Murray, one of Churchill's top biographers. This is a fine history of Israel written by a lightly respectable British author who is sympathetic to the Zionist cause. A good read nevertheless. (Black Swan, pp750)
Mamdouh El-Dakhakhni

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