I will admit I speed-read a lot of this, looking for key words and stopping and reading in detail every now and then. It was just too much book, and the style did not gel with me very well. Still, a fascinating topic, and after reading it had much to think on, re: my fascination with Ancient Egyptian culture.
Still, I did make it genuinely through about the first 350 pages or so, before realizing I would be reading it forever if I did that.
I’ve been wanting to read this for ages, but it was actually kind of disappointing. While full of a ton of interesting details, extremely comprehensive and thorough, the way it was all put together did not work to make this book easy to read. The book covers the entire history of ancient Egypt, which works out to about 4500 years of history. There’s no way we’re getting more than a cursory glance at everything, and aside from the empire itself, there’s no throughline to follow. I had the reading of this spread out over a month because I know it would be information dense, but a month actually wasn’t enough. I should have bought myself a copy and read it over six months. Maybe even longer!
The main consequence of reading this book is that I have lost nearly all my fascination for ancient Egyptian culture, which has been stoked for years by romanticized (and exoticized) Hollywood portrayals. The Pharaohs were tyrants, and while their civilization is fascinating, it was also super gross. They invented civilization, sure, but they also invented totalitarianism and propaganda. The ancient engineering wonder of the pyramids mostly fades when you realize it was all just a dick measuring contest, propped up by forced labor. Also, human beings have not changed even a little bit in the last 7,500 years.