I’m a huge fan of Terry Deary. For those of you not in the know, he’s the creator of the superlative Horrible Histories – aimed at kids (but adults find a lot to love too) and concentrating on the gross, gory and gossipy bits – and now the Dangerous Days series for the slightly more grown up.
Dangerous Days in Ancient Egypt delivers exactly what it promises on the cover – pyramids, plagues, gods and grave-robbers – all told with its eye on keeping the reader entertained as they are informed. If you’re looking for tons of detail, you’re in the wrong place, as Terry instead takes us on a whistlestop tour of Ancient Egyptian culture, from around 3150BC up until Cleopatra capitulated to Rome in 51BC, telling us what is known about the more interesting pharaohs and their funerary arrangements (which is how we know about some of them at all) and not forgetting to make a stop with the Victorian Egyptologists who ransacked their final resting places and carted their treasures (and, at times, their bodies) out of the country and into the hands of European museums.
Although it has its tongue firmly in its cheek, Deary doesn’t pull his punches where necessary, calling out the Victorian grave-robbers for what they were and making sure that we know that some theories about the Ancient Egyptians were simply the product of racism, that other, more mystical theories are nothing more than wishful New Age thinking, and that fresh murder victims have been passed off as ancient mummies more than once.
Entertaining from start to finish, I can’t think of a host that’s more fun to take a stroll through history with than Terry Deary, and have already bought the rest of the series.