An entertaining blend of tenacious scholarship, rigorous argument, and lucid exposition. (maps, photos, illustrations,...

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TUTANKHAMEN

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A BOY-KING

Noted Egyptologist El Mahdy (Exploring the World of the Pharaohs, not reviewed) separates legend from history in the story of the king whose short life has long captivated the public.

El Mahdy (whose interest in Egypt began when she was seven years old) declares that she finds the "private face" of the boy-king "far more intriguing than the alluring glitter of the gold he was buried with." In her complex though always engaging narrative El Mahdy accomplishes a number of tasks. She acquaints general readers with the foundations of ancient Egyptian civilization (including geography, religion, family, government, communications, nomenclature, and chronology). She tells the riveting story of the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb and the subsequent political struggles for control of the excavation and the artifacts. She relates what has become the "official" account of the boy-king, "the whole" of which, she says, "is completely untrue." And, finally, in a remarkable employment of archaeological evidence to support historical inference she constructs a convincing biography of the mysterious Tutankhamen who was crowned as a 7-year-old 3,500 years ago but ruled only about 9 years. Recognizing that scholarship often "finds a limited reading market, while wild theories . . . reach a wide readership," El Mahdy pauses periodically to puncture the inflated stories about the boy-king and about Egyptology in general. She emphasizes that the Egyptians never placed "a curse on entering a tomb"—quite the contrary (visitors were encouraged)—and she characterizes as "totally fallacious" the popular accounts of King Tut's curse. She argues, as well, against the pervasive notion that the boy-king was murdered ("out of the question," she declares) and establishes an alternative explanation—that he "died suddenly and of natural causes." The book's title is a bit misleading: El Mahdy spends most of her time dismantling the legends about the boy-king and establishing the firm historical foundation of his family. Her reconstruction of his brief life consumes only about 20 pages.

An entertaining blend of tenacious scholarship, rigorous argument, and lucid exposition. (maps, photos, illustrations, diagrams)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-26241-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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