Another solid work of history from an author and historian who truly grasps the mysteries of ancient Egypt.




The second studious volume in the author’s massive history of ancient Egypt.

British Egyptologist and TV presenter Romer (A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, 2013, etc.) emphasizes how the discoveries by archaeologists, especially during the 19th century, have formed our sense of Egypt’s ancient past, for better or worse. In eloquent, deliberative fashion, the author follows the development of the pharaonic state from the second millennium B.C.E. onward, as much research began to be recently available and “fake mini-biographies” of rulers were discarded in favor of “facts upon the ground”—e.g., texts, stones, and other surviving data that tell something of the lives of the people who created them. Following Romer’s previous book, this volume takes up where court masons began to build pyramids smaller than before, and “writing had changed everything”—i.e., where once the royal pyramid chambers had no images drawn on them, by 2325 B.C.E., they were engraved with hieroglyphic texts. The significance, Romer writes, is that “a single prince who lived and died in a pre-literary age,” Prince Hardjedef, of Khufu’s court, “had been transformed into an ageless literary personality.” Much of the first part of the book is an examination of how the “colossal wreck” of Egyptian history has come down to us, namely by the scholars of Napoleon’s Grand Tour of Egypt (1798-1801) and Jean François Champollion (1820s), the premier modern Egyptologist who set out to establish the firm chronology for the pharaohs and other elements of the history. Romer gives a good sense of the evolving pharaonic state, the court system, specific archaeological sites, the importance of the copper mines of Sinai and the courts of Memphis and Thebes, and the eventual movement to Itjtawy and its reflective courtly culture.

Another solid work of history from an author and historian who truly grasps the mysteries of ancient Egypt.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-03013-9

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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


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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