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Napoleon in Egypt

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  29 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


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
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 21st 2008 by Bantam (first published 2007)
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M.M. Bennetts
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
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Colleen
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
Todd Stockslager
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
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Martyn Rush
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
Ctny
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
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
Brian

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
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Preston Ray
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
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Bas Kreuger
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
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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
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J.
Mar 29, 2009 J. rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Louise
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
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Glenn Robinson
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
Carlos Burga
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
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Daniel Mason-D'croz
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
Andrea
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
Drew
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
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.
Cody
A strange story well researched and well presented.
Andy
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...)
Sean
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.
Chip
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.
KJ
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
G.
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.
Jack McEnany
History as compelling narrative. Bursts some myths, paints a very human portrait of Napoleon and his minions. Taught me much.
Greg Wolfson
Great bio of Napolean and his Egyptian dream of Empire...readable, fascinating, engaging.
Mostafa Orabyvić
Mostafa Orabyvić marked it as to-read
Aug 30, 2015
Alexandra
Alexandra marked it as to-read
Aug 30, 2015
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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
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More about Paul Strathern...
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“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
“Rose’s experiences had transformed her from a provincial innocent with a Caribbean accent into a woman of sophistication and hard realism, but the uncertainties of her position had taken their psychological toll, inclining her to extravagance and promiscuity. The bloom of her youth was beginning to fade, and she had such bad teeth (“like cloves”) that rather than open her mouth to laugh, she maintained a tight-lipped smile whilst snickering through her nose, and went out of her way to avoid eating in company.” 0 likes
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