Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East
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Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In thisvivid and timely history, Juan Coletells the story of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt.Revealing the young general's reasons for leading the expedition against Egypt in 1798 andshowcasing his fascinating views of the Orient, Coledelves into the psychology of the military titan and his entourage.He paints amulti-facetedportrait of the dailytravails of the soldiers in Nap...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Palgrave Macmillan Trade (first published August 1st 2007)
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Simon Wood
THE FRENCH ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF EGYPT!

I was about to write 'timely' with regard to Juan Coles book on Napoleons invasion of Egypt in 1798 but that would have been the case if it had been published in 2002/03 prior to the invasion of Iraq.

The book covers in detail the first year of the three year occupation, it would have obviously been better (from this readers point of view at any rate) if it had covered the occupation to the end. The downside of this would have been a 6 or 7 hundred page book....more
Todd
Definitively proves that invading the Middle East is for suckers. Juan Cole is one of the most informed and sane voices in the national discussion of anything related to Middle Eastern history, culture or politics.
Joe
Really great book, from a great writer and historian. Napoleon's Egyptian invasion was short lived but, despite having lived in Egypt for two years, I knew almost nothing about it. Interestingly, it is often ascribed as having been influential, particular relating to Egypt's judicial and administrative systems. Cole is mixed on its impact, and instead focuses on the practical realities of occupation, the variety of strategic errors and, most fascinatingly, Napoleon's attempt to co-opt popular Is...more
J.
Aug 18, 2008 J. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ... neocon orientalists....
Hm, let's see here .... a greedy overbearing western power embarks on an unprovoked, voluntary war against an ancient middle-eastern culture it knows next to nothing about. And the decider-in-chief is an unfailingly arrogant, self-absorbed little man whose vanity knows no bounds.
Sure, a little familiar, maybe, but it probably looked like a slam-dunk ..... at the Ministry Of War in Paris.

M. Bonaparte would later regret the outcome of his excellent Egyptian adventure of the summer of 1798. Regret...more
Trevor
If writing a book -- and making an intelligible argument -- is analogous to the putting together of pieces of a puzzle, then Mr. Cole has essentially taken a handful of puzzle pieces and dropped them on the table. I cannot say I disagree with Cole's analysis, nor that the book was singularly bad, but rather that his project got broken up on the fence -- the fence between scholarly analysis and popular history. In short, it succeeds at neither providing something *useful* for historians, nor some...more
Zahir
A fascinating account of the French encounter in the late 18th century occupying Egypt. It was the first time since the Crusades that a western power occupied Muslim lands, and some of the issues they faced resonate very much today in the US occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the US experiences in Iraq. It's surpring how little has changed in over 200 years.

One of the most interesting insights is in how the soldiers behaved, some of the issues they faced, and also how the natives of Egypt vi...more
Kevin
The book was lightly informative, especially if you don't have much previous knowledge of the French occupation of Egypt. However it was littered with too many anecdotes that I suspect were meant to serve as entertainment to a wider audience. There is not much in-depth analysis, although there were a few striking innuendos toward the end of the book that proved quite interesting (one example is Boisy suggesting the idea of a Jewish colony in Palestine to serve as a tool for French imperial desig...more
Elizabeth
In 1798 Napoleon invades Egypt in order to bring it freedom. Sound familiar? Egypt seems to have been doing fine without the French, and Napoleon planned poorly. He is attacked by the local populace and the Bedouins. The British Navy (under Nelson) destroys the French fleet and they are trapped in Egypt. The Ottoman Sultan orders a holy war on the French...Napoleon misjudged their enthusiasm for his attacking their province.

This is a fascinating look at a poorly planned invasion and how it went...more
Nick
If it weren't for the various gruesome deaths suffered by French soldiers and the extra-judicial mass killings, this book would be funny. It's got Frenchmen having rampant sex in this Muslim land; it's got modern Europe's first secular republic setting up the modern Middle East's first Sharia state; it's got France invading an Ottoman province in support of the Ottoman sultan; it's got the British navy transporting the French army back to France; it's got naked Muslim women wearing veils; and it...more
Hashem Ahmed
An excellent detailed account of Napoleon's campaign in Egypt. The focus is on the military and political manuevers of the french army.
Jean
This book gives a good history of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, written more at the level for someone who doesn't know much about it yet. I learned many interesting facts through this book, and generally enjoyed it. However, I was very surprised (and disappointed) that it did not discuss the Rosetta Stone. Sure, it mentioned that he went to Rosetta...but isn't finding the stone one of the major points??? I would also add that this book would not be appropriate for a church book club, but great f...more
Adrian Moran
This book was somehow less engaging than it should have been. Toward the end of the book, the author makes some interesting connections between Napoleon’s time in Egypt and more contemporary Western republics’ attempts to combine financial imperialism with imposition of “enlightened” forms of government. Before we get to that however, the reader, like Napoleon, seems to get bogged down in the minutia of internal Egyptian politics. It’s certainly well researched, bringing perspectives from French...more
Jake
A friend put me up to reading this. I've never been too interested in Napoleon; however, this was a great read. I like how the author places this particular campaign in the larger context of Napoleon's life and ambition. Far from being a quick trip out to play target practice with the Sphynx, the book reveals the vast scope and brutality of this campaign. And the author doesn't miss the chance to demonstrate the relevance of this failed conquest to the present day.
John
hmmm...what I learned in this book...hmmmmm....um...

well, let's see...hmmm....

how about this - Whitey shouldn't go starting shit he can't control in Middle-Eastern countries?

yeah...that works...

that and this - man am I ever glad I'm not some poor French SOB stuck in Egypt with Napoleon's stupid ass...no wonder they don't "do" war any more...
thanks Juan, for everything...
Bruce Sanders
I learned a lot given that I was only superficially knowledgeable about the history. And as expected from other reviews there are some startling similarities between the strategies and rationales of the Americans in Iraq and the French in Egypt. Even so, the writing was dry and the history was not interesting enough for me to really get caught up in the book.
Julie
Jul 03, 2008 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "enlightened" western dictators wishing to occupy middle eastern lands and call it liberation
Shelves: history
Pulls together a diverse selection of primary and secondary writings on France's invasion of the Middle East. There is a very strange (and long) tangent where perhaps the author is commenting on the west's tendency to sexualize and objectify "foreign" women - that seems to do just what it is commenting on. odd.
Vince
Cole knows his stuff and this episode in 18th C. European imperialism should be an interesting topic for study. Unfortunately, Cole's writing style is so dreadfully dull that it started making my eyes glaze over about 2/3 of the way through. Dangerous, as it was on cd in the car.
Booknerd Fraser
This was a lot denser than I'd expected, and I think I really was looking for was the story in "Mirage", of the Savants, though this Napoleon story was interesting as well.
Donnelly Wright
Very well done and meticulously researched little-known facet of Napoleon's career. It's academic but written is a style that grabs you like a good fiction adventure.
Sarah
Golly, Cole can turn an interesting subject into a complete bore. His history is probably masterful, but his book is characterless and dreary.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
May 17, 2013 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as maybe-read-sometime  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: The Black Count (Preiss)
Shelves: history
I have misgivings about Juan Cole's work, though I forget why. But it sounds like he taps some sources that most other people haven't.
Sean
That is one crazed Corsican! The obvious question is why did the pursuit of power merit such violence to this man?
Melissa
Aug 14, 2007 Melissa is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Once I finnish Thermopylae I'm going to start this one
John Fahey
Excellent Book. Informative an enjoyable to read.
Aporia
Aporia marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
Rob
Rob marked it as to-read
Aug 20, 2014
Mari
Mari marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2014
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Lisbet marked it as to-read
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John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole (born October 23, 1952) is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on television, and testified before the United States Senate. He has published severa...more
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