THE BLUE NILE by Alan Moorehead
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The Blue Nile, together with the author's previously White Nile, now completes a study of the history of the river and the blood-and-thunder events along its boundaries during the 19th century. Vivid in detail, vital in scholarship, Alan Moorehead waxes enthusiastic over the whole boom period of colonial warfare and dynastic breakups, from the desert Arabs and the highland Ethiopians to the European conquests and explorations; an elaborate panorama spawning slave trades and treasure hunts, pagan rites and barbaric pillages. It also encompasses as incongruous an assortment of adventurers as one could find: Bruce, a bumptious English Aeneas, tracing the river's course from Lake Tana to the sea; the Swiss Burckhart journeying into Nubia and discovering the Abu Simbel colossi; melancholy Flaubert giving birth to the myth of the voluptuous East; the campaigns of the young Napoleon ""exerting authority as naturally as he breathes""; the Mamelukes, homosexually-addicted warriors and rulers of Egypt; Turkey's Muhummad Ali, a Machiavellian despot invading the Sudan, hoping to awaken his Ottoman Empire from the sleep of ages; finally, Abyssinia's Theodore, a black reincarnation of Ivan the Terrible, affornting the British and losing all in the fiery Easter Sunday Battle of Magdala. Eminently readable, elegantly phrased, this Book-of-the-Month Club selection should prove a stunning hit, and there need be no doubt about its ultimate destination- a wide market.

Publisher: Harper