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The Nile: A Journey Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present
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The Nile: A Journey Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  164 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A hypnotic journey in the company of one of the world's most acclaimed Egyptologists over the fabled river telling how the Nile continually brought life to an ancient civilization now dead and how it sustained its successors, now in tumult.

Renowned Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson leads us through space as much as time: from the river's mystical sources (the Blue Nile which ris
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2014)
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Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, history
A good weaving of ancient and recent history through a journey down the Nile. Well written and the stories hold your attention.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was suggested reading for an upcoming trip we have planned. It is a great introduction to the Nile and Egypt. Obviously there is a lot there and a lot to learn if you want to truly know the history of thousands of years. The author makes what could be very dry reading enjoyable. Recommend if you are going on a Nile trip.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2015 rated it liked it
The author has taken an interesting approach to the history of Egypt and the Nile river, starting at what is known as the First Nile Cataract where rocks and changes in water level prevent navigation any further from one direction or the other on the Nile. In this case, starting at the First Cataract he could travel uninterrupted down the Nile to the delta and mouth of the Nile in the north where it flows into the Mediterranean.
His research is impressive and takes us, in each part of his travel,
Beth Asmaa
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating story with a vast array of ways to look at Nile River culture from Upper to Lower Egypt. The story brings in inhabitants, visitors, habitat, engineering, landscape, archaeology, rulers, religion, towns, making a documentary from all of those observations. An interesting fact was that no more of Egypt's most dangerous predator on humans and animals exist today, the crocodile. The author always brings to life the empty spaces along the river in which were once vibrant, influential cult ...more
Robert Davidson
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Despite the present day turmoil in Egypt this book provides an illuminating look at a Country with a wonderful history through the Centuries and the River that provides life to it all. The Author is a Master of his Subject and the book is speckled with anecdotes of the many people who lived or visited along the River. One can understand why so many visitors were captivated by the Monuments found everywhere and the search goes on today with the hope that young Egyptians will take their Country ba ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This book aims to tell the story of Egypt while traversing the Nile. It is well-written, and the author is clearly knowledgeable. However, the book is overly focused on ancient Egypt, to the point that the modern state is barely mentioned, so it was not what I was expecting.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Effortlessly dipping into the annals of history, both ancient and recent, The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt’s Past and Present, brings more than 7,000 years of Egypt's past to life in this wonderfully written book. Sparingly using some of his own personal experiences whilst travelling through Egypt on multiple occasions, Wilkinson also provides a glimpse to its future, in this extremely accessible history/travel book.

Whilst Herodotus stated that Egypt is "the gift of the river", Wilkinson puts
Jeff Patchett
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A mixture of Egypt's past and present starting in the south and traveling to Cairo. I wish I had had the experience of cruising the Nile in a dahabiya but Amelia Edwards "Thousand Miles up the Nile", is quoted and gives a nice contrast to the modern Nile Cruise. Armed with Google Earth, it was easy to identify the places visited in the text, many not on the usual tourist route.
A pleasant and enjoyable read, that provides a great insight into the current state of Egypt and its people by examinin
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’ll be visiting Egypt and cruising the Nile, particularly in a smaller boat, this is a must-read. It was an essential companion reference to the sites we toured, even with our knowledgeable guide. We read it before our trip and referenced it often throughout. Experiences from past travelers come to life through letters and stories compiled in the book. It’s an interesting and compelling read for anyone interested in Egyptian history.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read if you are planning to visit Egypt and travel down the Nile.
Arvind Balasundaram
“Egypt…is an acquired country – the gift of the river.” - Herodotus. So begins this fascinating narrative on an ancient civilization by renowned Egyptologist, Toby Wilkinson. With much passion and verve, the detailed account begins aptly on the Nile river, around the First Cataract at Aswan, and concludes 261 pages later at the largest city in Africa, the Middle East, and the Arab world, and once the most desired European playground – the city of Cairo.

This is a grand tour of a land facing many
Kerry Hennigan
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read a few travel narratives on the Nile Valley, I’m always pleased to come across one that ventures into new (for me) territory. Toby Wilkinson’s “The Nile”does that. A combination of history and travel narrative, it starts at Aswan and takes us downstream (i.e.) north towards the Delta. Sure there is lots of familiar territory along the way – Luxor, the Valley of the Kings etc. However, when he ventures into the rural (historic and modern) settlements of Upper Egypt there are many momen ...more
Bridget Doyle
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
A lot of great details, and perfect if you're going to Egypt, are in Egypt, or if you have already been to Egypt. A little dry (what history book isn't), but it does pick up about 100 pages in. A lot of names to remember, and not necessarily in chronological order (since that's now how the Nile civilizations were formed), but there's a nice timeline in the back.
Jane Bigelow
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, travel
I seldom give five stars, but this book deserves every one of them. The subtitle, "A Journey Downriver Through Egypt's Past and Present" sums it up perfectly. This is a clear, often amusing, always interesting trip through one of the world's most history-filled countries.

Wilkinson covers the history on all levels, from the change of dynasties to the nearly unchanging life of an Egyptian villager. The descriptions of individual places make me want to visit them all myself, even the dangerous ones
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mesmerizing account of various places and the history found there, starting at the first cataract and ending at Gezira island in Cairo. I would read this book again before my next visit to Egypt.

There was enough detail of many of the ancient sites, including stories of the fascinating characters who found, excavated, and sometimes looted antiquities, for the more serious tourist, but not so much detail as to overwhelm.

The accounts of some places is necessarily brief - a detailed account of eve
Marsella Johnson
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Well I REALLY want to go to Egypt now. This captures life along the Nile and how this iconic river has driven Egypt's economy, culture, not to mention it's past and future. There are places along the Nile where life has changed very little, and others that are struggling to survive. The tragedy of the modernization that brought dams to the Nile and buried in a watery tomb, priceless cities and artifacts that will make you want to weep. Sad realities of a country that has one of the most amazing ...more
Michael Samerdyke
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a terrific book, a fine mix of travelogue and history, written in a clear, accessible style.

I read this to improve my knowledge of Egyptian history, and I was very pleased. Wilkinson starts where the Nile enters Egypt, around the First Cataract, and proceeds downstream, talking about the major points of interest along the way.

What really made this interesting to me was that he not only talked about the Egypt of the Pharaohs but also Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, as well as the medieval an
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I ordered this from QPBC with some trepidation. It sounded like it could be really dry and boring. I love to read travel books in the winter so, went for it. Don't know much about Egypt and considered the last few years of upheaveal thought it would be a good place to increase my background knowledge. It is not dry at all Wilkinson obviously has a deep interest and affection for Egypt and its history. He has told a story filled with personal history, historical narritives and timelines that give ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
An engaging tour through the geographic regions and historical periods, from ancient to modern, of the Nile in Egypt. Wilkinson is a good storyteller, highlighting colorful characters and incidents, and his erudition comes through in descriptions of the social, cultural, and religious milieu of each place and time. Part travelogue, part popular history - a good intro for the curious.

Also, this little book makes a good companion read: A Nile Anthology-Travel Writing through the Centuries edited b
Oct 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned, read-2014
Mixed review on this one. Toby Wilkinson writes well and he includes some fascinating stories. I appreciated that he incorporated history, politics, geological, and so many other disciplines in weaving his stories. Sadly, though, it just couldn't hold my focus. Perhaps it's because I've been to most of the places discussed in this book that I was expecting something a bit different. Or perhaps I'm visual enough that I would have benefited from maps or diagrams being included, too. I really wante ...more
Cheryl Carpinello
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Had to restart this because work got in the way. Finished last night, and I loved it. Followed his journey in my head as he described each destination on the Nile. Would love to go back and see the places I missed. His descriptions were vivid addressing cultural and political issues and history. Out of all, his chapter on Cairo interested me the most. We only spent a couple of days in Cario at the beginning and end of our trip, but we wandered through those areas. Definitely going to get his "Th ...more
Kenneth Iltz
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
My wife and I and I took a week long Nile cruise as far up as Aswan about 10 years ago when it was still safe to travel I Egypt. I wish that this book had been available at the time. It is an extensive history of the sites from Aswan to Cairo. My only critique of the book is that it is supposed to be an account of the author’s travels on the Nile. Toby Wilkinson does not share many of his personal experiences during his travels. The book is heavy on history. This book would be an enjoyable read ...more
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
I am hopeful that it will one day soon be safe again to travel in Egypt to these sites and more. Until then I will have to be content with books such as this, and I appreciate the author's effort. It was hard going at first, but I've never abandoned a book about Egypt before and I was not about to start now. Once the author hit Luxor, the narrative really picked up and moved much more quickly. Egypt is such a fascinating place and it saddens me that so much history is being lost. Hopefully stabi ...more
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: society, travel
The story of his trip down the Nile brought back fond memories of my trip on that spectacular river and the marvelous antiquities present. The historical
frame of over 5000 years of Egyptian civilization was amazing to experience and as exciting to read the author's detailed look at some out of the way monuments. His experience and knowledge combine to make this travelogue Avery worthwhile read.
Ronan Mcdonnell
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book, which crosses the boundaries between travelogue and history. Egypt is brought to life, the text's chronology dictated by geography. If history is just one bloody thing after another, then this is a very different view. The richness of Egyptian heritage, its influence on civilisation and its global importance are told through vignettes and diversions. A great book.
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
There's something old fashioned about this book. His view of the region and its inhabitants seems a bit orientalist. He might have offered a more critical view of the many injustices and crimes perpetrated by the Egyptologists of old but instead tends to celebrate them as he weaves a narrative that relies too much on myth and legend.
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully done journey down the Nile in which the author discusses the history of major historical sites along the river. Conversational in tone with wonderful descriptions. Beautiful color illustrations as well as lovely Victorian engravings at front of each chapter.
Janet Durham
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good history, and interesting new perspective on Egypt for me. The history part is a little confusing because it is told in order geographically from south to north, and not chronologically. But it sure made me want to take a cruise on the Nile.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Overview of the course of Nile from Aswan downriver to Cairo. Very well-researched. For me, after awhile the journey became a bit bogged down mostly because of the detail. Yet, I definitely have a better understanding of the area and the archaeologists, and history of those who visited the area.
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Dr Toby Wilkinson joined the International Strategy Office in July 2011, working with the Pro Vice Chancellor (Jennifer Barnes) to support the schools, faculties and departments in their international engagements, and to develop the University's international strategy, particularly with regard to research collaborations and relationships with the EU, US, India and China. Prior to this, Dr Wilkinso ...more
“Egypt is the Nile, the Nile Egypt.” 0 likes
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