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The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery
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The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  162 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The Secret of the Great Pyramid is a thrilling intellectual adventure story about the most exciting discovery in Egyptology in decades. Bob Brier, along with French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, tells the remarkable true story of Houdin’s obsession with Egypt’s Great Pyramid, one of the Seven Wonders of the World: how, in an ancient agrarian society not long removed from t ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Smithsonian (first published 2008)
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Mar 13, 2009 Kev rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: clayton, creston, jeff, aaron, jesse, mason
This is interesting. I have read many inferior books on the Great Pyramid of Khufu over the years. So many years in fact that I remember Khufu was known by his Greek name given by the Ptolemys: Cheops.

This book is a must read for anyone serious about Egyptology or just an amateur Egyptophile. It debunks the crazy UFOlogists and the magical fantasists. It's clever. It's a detective yarn and it jumps between now over the last 9 years and then more than 4,600 years ago over fifty years.

I won't giv
Apr 17, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
Two authors too full of themselves offer an interesting and plausible theory on how the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. Although the book was published in 2008, unfortunately their theory has yet to be proven as of early 2014. I would have rated the book higher if there weren't several irrelevant biographical chapters covering the authors themselves. (Of course, if their theory is correct the book will become famous and we'll want to know the intimate details of the authors' childhood, educatio ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 05, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
I read this directly after I read the Lincoln biography "Team of Rivals", and it was quite a different experience. This is a light, pretty easy read, though I still enjoyed it. And it seemed so short!

This is the story of how a French engineer and his architect son came up with a theory of how the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. They realized that the contemporary theories of exterior ramps were unfeasible, and by combining their knowledge of building, came up with the idea that an interior ramp
Jan 07, 2009 Wayne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Matt, Buffy, Justin
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't know how I haven't heard of this guy. Jean-Pierre Houdin is a French architect. His father had an epiphany while watching a documentary about the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It wasn't built with one long ramp or a ramp spiraling around the outside. It was built with a ramp hidden within the pyramid. Jean-Pierre spent the next 5-6 years working to prove that theory.
This book is not a detailed look at the theory, although it does present the major details. This book more of a st
Apr 26, 2009 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Bob Brier writes a very accessible book about the mystery surrounding the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza. An external ramp was used up until about 125 feet in the pyramid's construction and then Houdin's idea was that an internal ramp for moving stone blocks would come into play. (The internal ramp had been a part of the original construction plans and was built along with the rest of the structure). The external ramp would then be taken apart and its blocks would be used to finish of ...more
Laura C.
Jun 24, 2009 Laura C. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
For every amateur archeologist out there, here is a grand book. I was hooked on Egypt when my Mom bought a fabulous book of colored photographs from National Geographic of Tutankhamen’s treasure. I’ve seen the documentaries, fallen for the charming Dr. Zahi Hawass, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, read the Book of the Dead, and now, here is the story of a fellow pilgrim, an architect fascinated with how the great pyramid was built. His labor of love became an obse ...more
Feb 25, 2015 WRH rated it it was amazing
Several years ago, I had watched a TV special on a man who believed that the great pyramid was built using an internal ramp. Curious, I did some research, identified the man and bought this book about him. He was Jean-Pierre Houdin, a French architect. He was not an Egyptologist but was fascinated by how the Great Pyramid was built. He spent years inputting dimensions and known information about the pyramid into a 3D computer program. I believe he has solved the question of how the ancients buil ...more
Sarah(All The Book Blog Names Are Taken)
A very intriguing theory as to how the pyramid was built. It's a wonder no one has thought of it before, given the major flaws in the previous two theories. It certainly makes sense - I only wish it had been published after they were able to do the thermal scans. On the other hand, if the scans are completed and no ramp is found, no book gets written and no money is made.

Brier's writing style is easy to read, and he does his best to make the technical stuff as easy to understand as possible. Goo
Thanks to my pastor for lending me this book as try to get my hands on anything I can on ancient Egypt. Bob Brier is a well known Egyptology professor and I have enjoyed some of his lectures. This book did not disappoint. The authors collaborated on discovering how the Great Pyramid was built. Jean-Pierre Houdin is an architect and he made it his life's passion on solving the mystery. Using high-tech computer technology they discovered the probable solution. This book was informative and fascina ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Nisha rated it it was ok
Shelves: oct-2015
Almost all Egyptologists receive mail from strangers. Sometimes it is from reincarnated pharaohs; sometimes it is from prospective tourists who want to know if they can drink the water. (You can't.) Because my specialty is mummies, I receive hundreds of letters and e-mails from sixth graders who have been studying Egypt in school and want to mummify their recently deceased parakeets. About twice a year I receive offers from people who want to donate their bodies for mummification when they die. ...more
Lianne Burwell
May 21, 2009 Lianne Burwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a fascinating book that proves that just because the pyramids are thousands of years old, there's very little we really know about them, which is probably why they still fascinate us. This book, written by the ever-entertaining Bob Brier, mixes the history of the pyramids and their evolution from early versions to the 'classic' pyramid, mixed with the story of the man who came up with a new theory of how they were built. They haven't been able to do the tests that would definitively conf ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Bill rated it liked it
Shelves: history-science
I found this book to be really intersting, and generally easy to understand. The book describes a system of stone building where an internal ramp is built along with the pyramid and a counter weight system is used so that very heavy stone blocks can be moved with few individuals pulling the weight. There are several pictures and diagrams that help somewhat in understanding the engineering descriptions of how this was done. Still not definative evidence has been found to prove that an internal ra ...more
Chi Dubinski
Nov 12, 2013 Chi Dubinski rated it it was amazing
French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin became obsessed with the mystery of how the Great Pyramid was built. He gave up his job and he and his wife lived off savings so he could spend ten hours a day at his computer to recreate 3-D models of the pyramid’s interior. He believes that there is a mile long ramp inside. Egyptologist Bob Brier partnered with Houdin to apply for research permits to validate the internal ramp theory. Lots of photographs, charts, and computer generated graphics bring the sto ...more
Nov 02, 2008 Sandy rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in Ancient Egypt and/or the Pyramids. Bob has written this book in a very entertaining and engaging way. This book does many things, it explains a new theory on how the Pyramids were built and how the theory evolved and some background on the history of the Pyramids. Bob brings his usual excitement to the subject which makes it a very quick and interesting read. I felt it would be a good idea to read Bob’s latest ...more
Jun 15, 2012 Ci rated it really liked it
This is about one man's obsession regarding how the ancient Egyptian pyramids were made. This is great story telling, but what maddens me is that brilliant and slightly deranged "forensic architect" successfully figured the mystery out but has never actually visited the sites! This is quite disconcerting to see how he got satisfaction through computer modeling but did not have the urge to actually see the pyramids in physical forms.
Mar 22, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it
A very good book about the construction of the great pyramid. Written by an architect and an expert in Egyptology it presents a new theory of how the pyramid may have been built. With the use of 3D drawings and simulations they test their theories and document facts about the construction. Photographs and drawing illustrate these ideas so a layman can understand. Well written and informative.
Aug 15, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
Account of an architect who spent years using computer models to explore how the great pyramids of Egypt were built. Focuses on use of a ramp inside the pyramid. Web site with computer simulations at
Jun 25, 2010 Aaronlisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting theory on how the Great Pyramid could have been made. Whether or not the claim of that this theory has solved the mystery is true or not is another story. That said the book was well written and entertaining.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Nov 28, 2008 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as decided-not-to-read
The central theory is interesting, but sadly, the book is handicapped by its inability to deliver a true or false verdict. (The authors have been unable as yet to secure the approval of the relevant authority to investigate their theory.)
Steve Gross
Aug 21, 2013 Steve Gross rated it really liked it
Bob Brier, author of one the best Teaching Company courses (on Ancient Egypt) writes an entertaining book on a new theory of how the Great Pyramid was built. The book could use some editing as it is a little repetitive and has too many exclamation marks. Pictures are terrible.
Jan 20, 2009 Leslie rated it really liked it
A fascinating new theory on how the pyramids were built. I'm a big fan of Bob Brier. He is so good at writing non-fiction that makes it a page-turner like fiction. I'm so curious to see where this theory goes.
May 22, 2016 Christiane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining, informative, easily understood and even suspenseful. I hope the interior ramp will be found before too long.

A must for everyone fascinated by Ancient Egypt in general and the Great Pyramid of Giza in particular.

Nov 21, 2008 Carol marked it as to-read
Heard about it on NPR's Science Friday and loved hearing about the social organization needed to move one 2.5 ton block every 3.5 minutes for a 10 hour day for 20 years.
Jan 08, 2009 Amanda is currently reading it
Matt got me this book for Christmas. Bob Brier is an Egyptologist who has written several books, a few of which I've read and really enjoyed. I'm a good way into it, and it's fascinating!
Jan 26, 2014 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am really enjoying and even understanding the engineering stuff in this book despite the not so great writing
Dec 07, 2008 tomlinton rated it liked it
Interesting book
somewhat marred
by pedestrian writing

The Kindle version's
pictures are of course obscure

And yes I accept the premise
although it's never quite proven
Aug 18, 2009 Kimberly rated it really liked it
If you are "into" the pyramids in Egypt and you have wondered how they were built, this book provides some good theories on how the pyramids were constructed.
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Robert Brier (born December 13, 1943), also known as Mr. Mummy, is an American Egyptologist specializing in paleopathology. A Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University/LIU Post, he has researched and published on mummies and the mummification process and has appeared in many Discovery Civilization documentaries, primarily on ancient Egypt.
Born and raised in The Bronx, New York, Brier earned
More about Bob Brier...

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