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Napoleon in Egypt

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  177 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
“Europe is a molehill….”
Everything here is worn out…tiny Europe has not enough to offer.
We must set off for the Orient; that is where all the greatest glory is to be achieved.”

Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt was the first Western attack in modern times on a Middle Eastern country. In this remarkably rich and eminently readable historical account, acclaimed author Pa
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 21st 2008 by Bantam (first published 2007)
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Jan 01, 2016 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: napoleon, history
Quite possibly the definitive book on Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. And like most Napoleon books, I learned something new practically on every page. The nearly inexhaustably amount of material on the Napoleonic Wars and Bonaparte means you can pretty much read absolutely nothing but history on it, and still be amazed. In this book, the earthshattering revelation for me was that Mamelukes were actually slaves imported from Georgia/Bosnian region with immense amount of power (was never quite sure ...more
M.M. Bennetts
Nov 12, 2010 M.M. Bennetts rated it it was ok
This review was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor.

On 19 May 1798, General Napoleon Bonaparte sailed from Italy with an army of nearly 40,000 men–along with another, smaller army of scientists, engineers, artists, and linguists, the so-called Savants–to conquer Egypt.

First stop, however, was Malta. There, Napoleon ousted the traditional rulers, the Knights of St. John, established Malta as a French satellite, and plundered the treasury’s five million francs of gold, one millio
Feb 08, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, world-history
This is a readable and thorough discussion of Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. I'm not a specialist in Napoleon by any means, so it may seem oversimplified for some of the more informed. But the writing was clear and I really got caught up in the action. The author is careful to consider Napoleon's view, that of his aides, his soldiers, and to some degree the Egyptians. If one wants a really detailed view of how Napoleon influenced African history, this book does not go into that in any detail. I r ...more
K.D. McQuain
Oct 06, 2015 K.D. McQuain rated it liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
It's a decent read, well researched and footnoted. I do wish it was a bit more rousing seeing how it is a great adventure story.
Todd Stockslager
Jun 05, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Common historical knowledge includes the awareness that Napoleon slipped out of Egypt alone, abandoning his army to the lost cause while dishonorably slinking back to France to triumphantly become--Napoleon.

Not so common is the awareness of Napoleon's goal in Egypt, and how it shaped his leadership afterwards. Strathern's history does an excellent job of telling this often-neglected history:

1. Napoleon went to Egypt intent on conquering that country first, then moving eastward through the Middle
Martyn Rush
Mar 09, 2014 Martyn Rush rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
A read to follow up the 'Napoleon and Islam' book, this understandably mitigates and qualifies Napoleon's fascination with the east and the Islamic religion, weighing it up against strategic and diplomatic considerations. It is a fine history book - doing what all history books should - balancing detail and narrative; rigour and pace. Strathern instinctively knows when to fast forward and when to pause. Like most books of its type - it is slightly too long at 420 pages (could have easily told th ...more
May 07, 2015 Ctny rated it really liked it
Considering there aren't that many books solely focused on Napoleon's expedition in Egypt I really appreciated Strathern's book. Strathern keeps the narrative lively and adventurous while still interweaving the historical context and larger topics into his writing. I also enjoyed the parallels that he drew pertaining to Napoleon's later encounters with Admiral Nelson. This isn't the best book if you're using it for research. A lot of the narrative structure echoes J. Christopher Herold's 1962 m ...more
Victor Gibson
Mar 09, 2015 Victor Gibson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book rolls along describing clearly the various land and sea battles which eventually resulted in the defeat of the French in Egypt after Napoleon had left for France. It is just a bit difficult to keep all the players in mind, but the various wild characters are fascinating, to the point that sometimes one has to reread descriptions of them and their activities. Despite the amount of research which must have been undertaken to write the book, there are not too many quotations. So in the en ...more

Paul Stathern delivers a fascinating account on Napoleon's invasion of Egypt covering the military, political and cultural significance of this historical Middle Eastern invasion. Napoleon christened his army the Army of the Orient which revealed much about his true target. Not only Egypt but beyond through the valleys of Persia to the mountains of India. Napoleon at his naïve stage intended to conquer them all as he had Italy. It was in Egypt that Napoleon shaped not only many of his military i
Preston Ray
Feb 26, 2012 Preston Ray rated it it was ok
Shelves: military, history
Okay, I don't quite get why this book has such high ratings. Too much pop-psychology, broad generalizations and assertions without much to back them up. The writing is entertaining but so is a lot of fiction.

There are many better books on Napoleon that do a lot more justice to his complex personality and also better books on the Egyptian campaign.

For the Egyptian Campaign, try any of the following before this.

Osprey Men-At-Arms series has a quick easy read on the military aspects by Michael Bar
Bas Kreuger
Feb 11, 2012 Bas Kreuger rated it it was amazing
A fine narrative piece of history-writing. Napoleons campaign to Egypt has been seen as a side show in history, certainly compared to the more deciding campaigns in Austria, Spain, Germany and naturally Russia.
However, the Egyptian campaign can be seen as a formative period for Napoleon. On his own, without interference from the Directory in Paris, Napoleon got a taste of not only generalship, but more importantly of empirebuilding. Besides conquering Egypt, he tried to transform Egyptian societ
Sara Ramsey
I can't express how much I loved this book...mostly because I love drama, and Strathern did a great job pulling in a lot of memoirs/letters/anecdotes that were full of tales of derring-do and general ridiculousness. I saw a review on Amazon that said he got lots of little details wrong, and I perhaps wouldn't be surprised (I noticed that he said the French Grand Army in Russia a decade later died of typhoid, when they really died of typhus, which is a different disease all together).

But for a ge
Mar 29, 2009 J. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: .. Donald Rumsfeld ..
Seems with a good book that a series of hurdles, if legitimate, present the reader with a more rewarding reading experience, for some reason. Russian novels come to mind, with the patronymic tradition that allows one character to be addressed differently by different characters; once the reader pushes through the identity issues, each exchange is a little enriched by how the characters address each other.

Similarly, historical accounts of Egypt under early exploration present the dilemma of Lowe
Apr 16, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
The author conveys the drama and adventure of the young Napoleon and his army in Egypt. The prose can't help but grip the reader, even a reader who knows the outcome of the stories, battles and adventures will keep turning pages.

The author describes and documents his take on Napoleon's motives and the political pressures on him. He describes how he acquired his resources, refreshingly with facts and explanations. (The financial end of campaigns is often generalized in this type of narrative.) He
Glenn Robinson
Aug 04, 2014 Glenn Robinson rated it really liked it
The more I read about Napoleon in Egypt, the more I am wondering about this myth that Napoleon was a great leader. Forcing his army to march in the desert without water, not bringing proper artillery, and questions remaining whether or not he ordered his sick troops to be euthanized, the example of great leadership simply is not here during this period of time in Napoleon's life. As for this book, well written, focused on Napoleon's time in Egypt with just a brief segment before and after. Once ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Iain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a great deal about Napoleon, but I've encountered only cursory coverage of his expedition to Egypt. Strathern manages to give us a detailed account of a fascinating journey. Of a revolutionary group of Europeans, visiting Egypt for the first time in centuries. Their social, scientific, and military experiences are conveyed in readable, engrossing prose. Particularly in the book's last 2/3rds as in the early chapters Strathern tends to use overly complicated words which strike a discord ...more
Josianne Fitzgerald
Sep 25, 2015 Josianne Fitzgerald rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, cac
Excellent! Enjoyed especially the first hand accounts of Egypt in the 19th century. Some descriptions still apply today.

It is staggering to contemplate Napoleon's ambitions and political fantasies, particularly in light of the difficulties in communication with Europe. But also impressive are the contributions of the savants that accompanied him to Egypt. Napoleon was right in considering those as his greatest achievement in Egypt.
Carlos Burga
Aug 27, 2012 Carlos Burga rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Once again, Strathern is able to recount one of history’s most awe inspiring chapters with an intensity usually reserved for Dan Brown novels. He is able to not only put you in the middle of the action but show you time and time again the folly of the idea that history is made by the will of anyone man.
Strathern shows how history is a serious of fortuitous occurrences that certain humans have the ability to use to further their own benefits. In this regard, Strathern is able to revoke the perce
Daniel Mason-D'croz
Aug 05, 2011 Daniel Mason-D'croz rated it liked it
This is a pretty interesting book, Strathern uses a narrative style that is accessible to anyone. The events of the Egyptian campaign can almost be read as an adventure novel and Strathern does a good job of describing the historical events of this campaign in an interesting and enjoyable way. While previously familiar with the general events of the Egyptian campaign, I still was able to learn a great deal through reading this book. Strathern uses first hand accounts and the memoirs of the actua ...more
Ella Fearne
May 03, 2016 Ella Fearne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Absolutely fascinating. Totally accessible and with more drama, intrigue and interest than most good fiction titles. Paul Strathern is a brilliant writer.
Jun 24, 2013 Drew rated it really liked it
This book was a great way to learn about Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. The author goes into details that no biography could ever do without dragging into a 3000 page volume. The book is written in a great style which makes it an exciting read. The author sometimes speculates about the nature of the relationship between Napoleon and Josephine, which I found a little too opinionated and not objective enough, but those instances were very rare (and hey, Strathern is the expert, not me). The militar ...more
Alastair Manderson
Jul 27, 2012 Alastair Manderson rated it liked it
Most interesting was the discussion of Napoleon's views on the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The rest of the book was fairly dry, with interesting accounts of economic governance. Perhaps the let down of the book, for me, is that it focusses a great deal of time on consider the sexual relationships of Napoleon, which are of neither interest nor major detail in terms of the campaign in Egypt.
Apr 30, 2015 Cody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange story well researched and well presented.
May 05, 2013 Andy rated it really liked it
Engaging history written like a story. The author describes the difficulty facing the French army in Mameluke Egypt and equally depicts the French ideals as well as their reception from influential Egyptians observing the effect of French colonial policy. This is an engaging read for anyone interested in Napoleon, European colonialism, Egyptian history, or small wars.
José Antonio
Lo único que puedo decir negativo de este trabajo es que echo en falta es algun material gráfico de la Descripcion de L'egypte. Por lo demás, un trabajo muy bien planteado, sobre todo porque no se ciñe al aspect militar sino que refleja todas las actividades francesas en la expedición (sociales, administrativas, culturales...)
Apr 26, 2010 Sean rated it really liked it
An exciting war story of Napoleon's rather misguided attempt at following in Alexander The Great's footsteps. He almost pulls it off... but not really. Interesting that he brought with him so many scientists who made so many discoveries while there, making the scientific angle the historically resonant part of the story.
Sep 21, 2009 Chip rated it really liked it
This is an amazingly readable narrative about a fascinating time in Europe and the Middle East. Littered with nuggets of historical wisdom and a scholarly work of non-fiction throughout, it reads like a novel from cover to cover.
Jul 26, 2015 KJ rated it liked it
I read about a 1/4 of it and stopped. I'm just so hit-or-miss with non-fiction and this one was a miss. I don't believe it's the author's fault, it's just not something that clicked with me.
Ahmed Amir Neihoum
Beautiful to read and Paul writes in a narrative style that always wants you to read more. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Napoleon's and Egypt's history in this period
Aug 02, 2011 G. rated it really liked it
Not much of a battlefield history type, so those portions were slow for me. The author covers the breadth of the campaign beyond the battlefield well though.
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Paul Strathern (born 1940) is a British writer and academic. He was born in London, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, after which he served in the Merchant Navy over a period of two years. He then lived on a Greek island. In 1966 he travelled overland to India and the Himalayas. His novel A Season in Abyssinia won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1972.

Besides five novels, he has also written nume
More about Paul Strathern...

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“The myth persists in Egypt to this day that Napoleon’s soldiers actually disfigured some of these ruins, and are even said to have used the Sphinx as target practice for their cannons, shooting off its nose. This last is a calumny: it is known that the Sphinx was defaced as early as the eighth century by the Sufi iconoclast Saim-ed-Dahr,28 and was further damaged in 1380 by fanatical Muslims prompted by the Koran’s strictures against images. During these early times the Sphinx was not regarded as a precious historical object, but instead inspired fear: through the centuries it became known to the Egyptians as Abul-Hol (Father of Terrors), and would only begin to be regarded more favorably when it became a tourist attraction in the later nineteenth century.” 1 likes
“for. As Napoleon continued, the full extent of his intentions gradually became clearer: having conquered Egypt, he would then mount an expedition to India, where he would attack the British. This force would require 60,000 men, 30,000 of whom would be recruited and trained from amongst the Egyptians; it would take 10,000 horses and 50,000 camels, sufficient to carry supplies for sixty days and water for six. Other provisions would be sequestered on the march, which would take four months to reach the Indus. In India he would link up with the forces of Tippoo Sahib, the ruler of Mysore who had risen against the British and sworn allegiance to French revolutionary ideals. Napoleon concluded by announcing that the entire expedition would cost between eight and nine million francs.” 0 likes
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