Nicknamed John the Baptist for his visionary intensity, Marchand sailed a steamer up a tributary of the Congo River into the African interior, grinding to a halt where the river ran out on a plateau miles from the Nile. He has written a lively, if sometimes long-winded, pastiche of history and travelogue that weaves thumbnail sketches of the pharaohs, explorers, conquerors, engineers and schemers who tried, with varying degrees of success, to impose their will on the Nile, adding descriptions of his own travels on the river.
Along the way, he offers disquisitions on cobras, crocodiles, bilharzia, Victorian-era sex tours, cannibals, the Rosetta stone and the construction of the Suez Canal. Twigger takes his title from a five-mile stretch of the river near Khartoum, where the Blue Nile, originating in the mountains of Ethiopia, spills into the White Nile, flowing out of Lake Victoria. A modern forensic investigation found compelling evidence that enemy troops captured and executed him, contradicting conventional wisdom that pharaohs kept far from the front lines.
Obviously, the command was ignored.
All of which is perfectly suited to this subject and makes for an entertaining and absorbing read. Twigger covers the entirety of the river, charting the length of the Nile from its disputed origins through Africa on a whirlwind tour of the rulers, explorers, conquerors, generals, and novelists who painted the Nile "red. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Try our range of BBC bestselling history magazines today! Visit Seller's Storefront.
There were parts I really liked and parts, toward the end, that I loathed. The book is a roaring gallop of time and places, rather like the flowing of the Nile itself.
From religion, to language, to the stories rooted in our faith and history books, the Nile River has proven to be a constant fixture in mankind's tales. Editorial Reviews. Review. “Robert Twigger's Red Nile: A Biography of the World's Greatest River abounds in tales of grand dreams and thwarted ambitions.
The journey starts out smooth and fairly brisk but then along comes bumps and near misses with whirlpools, the bumps along the way are not crocodiles and hippopotami, although at this junction I will point out I would far rather sit with crocodiles, hippos and babo I can't actually in all honesty give this book a fair star rating. The journey starts out smooth and fairly brisk but then along comes bumps and near misses with whirlpools, the bumps along the way are not crocodiles and hippopotami, although at this junction I will point out I would far rather sit with crocodiles, hippos and baboons than any human being.
That's the truth. Those large and uncertain animals are rather like wasps, you leave them alone and they will leave you alone. The bumps then became more like smashing into the dams, being dragged under and then squeezed through the cracks to be popped out the other side. In the literal contexts in my personal opinion people who are mentally disabled should not be labelled 'mad' and I think he watched too many old movies where in disgusting settings of institutions disabled people were shown to scream, shout or yell.
It could be true that this may have happened, but neither he nor I are authorities on the validity of this suggestion. Having visited Egypt as a child and lived in a desert land for five years and knowing the fragile beauty that can be found in such an ecosystem I believe it is idiotic to promote quad biking in any form. Despite the author living in Egypt far longer than I did in the neighbouring Middle East and having far more education than I have had his ignorance seems wide spread despite what the inside flap tells me.
This may seem tiny and nitpicky but it seems to draw parallels further along. Foxes don't kill for curiosity. They kill more than one hen for example because they fully intend on coming back and storing the other carcasses for lean times. The reason why a lot aren't able to do this is because they are interrupted.
It was equally unpleasant to read that in a generalised sweeping remark he makes it sound as though Arabs then and now are Taliban in appearance with shark faced dictators. As well as 'darkest Africa' would have been more accurate, otherwise it smacks of colonialism in all its monstrousness or gives the impression there isn't much sun light in that part of Africa, where ever that is. As well as telling us about this sunless part of the great continent there was a regular feature of cannibals and at this point we seem to be further away from the Nile and an actual biography about the Nile than one could wish for.
As you may have guessed the reader was not left with the ancient Egyptians for long. Roll on the Europeans!
But not yet. Wait while we bump around to the ivory trade. In short there are too many elephants and it's all the China's fault. Which should read that because of the tourists coming to drive their quad bikes, paddle their canoes and stare at the pyramids and the Nile Egypt has to cater for this insatiable demand and the odd writer who will promise one thing and deliver another. Farmers need to expand their crops to feed all these extra mouths, cities grow, towns become cities and so on, farmers encroach on the elephants territory.
The elephants are starving, some see a farmer's crop, easy food, they eat and become a menace. Does the author reassure the reader that he exposed Fabrice to the proper authorities? He does not. I get the distinct impression that Fabrice continues his illegal activity and the author has no guilty conscience at all. By this time I had the book down for three stars from five.
It keeps slipping after that. Now roll on General Gordon. Shall we all weep salty tears as lush and long as the Nile once was for the fall of Gordon? That may be the requirement. I for one cannot believe that the opposing forces, the Mahdis, were not legitimate dervishes and that they're grievances were not legitimate and to be brushed off with the sweep of modern jihadists who were simply crazy and poor old Gordon was really poor old Gordon. If he didn't want to do it then he should have tried harder to find someone else.
To be a fair and unbiased biographer one should always state the other sides reasons, even if the reasons are beyond the comprehension of the writer. However, I didn't get the impression at this point that the author was unbiased. Indeed it was all too clear where his bias lay. It was all very much apparent in the statement that during the empire the British record was impeccable.
Well there are a lot of ghosts from the past he should dare risk saying that too. Not least and limited to the Beothuk people of Canada and the slaves that existed on from the British banning of the trade. Yes that must be clear that the banning of the trade in slaves did not stop there being slaves and while there were many British men that abhorred slave trade, mark you "slave trade", there were more than enough in positions of power that saw the need in the trade and practise.
I disagree most strongly with his suggestion that while the empire existed before s the record was impeccable. The decline of the empire was not complex and hard to decipher as the author makes out.
At this point the stars slipped from one to none, but as I said because the first part was well done and made me think of the corniche of my early childhood. Nov 27, Ameya Warde rated it liked it Shelves: microhistories , place-histories , history. Oh my god.
I finished this book. Parts were so long winded and rambling especially closer to the end my eyes glazed over and I skimmed ahead, which I hate doing. It was also just very In the sense that it very much written by a decedent of British colonizers.
For example, talking about Cannibalistic tribes that caused me to research them on my own, then finding out that their susp Oh my god. Or lines like this: "To the British, such an act of violence against the homeland of an indigenous people would have been unthinkable. I did watch Levison Wood's 4 part series "Walking the Nile" on the UK's channel 4 while reading this, where Wood became the first recorded to anyone's knowledge person to walk the entire length of the River. It was intense, and I wish I'd have watched that before instead of near the end of reading this, as, not being very familiar with the geography of the Nile, i was often lost, until I saw the program and all their maps especially helped me put the geographical puzzle into place in my head.
For anyone interested in this subject, I'd say this book definitely is worth grabbing from the library and attempting, or at least skimming through. In a parallel world of Story the River Nile is red, the colour of blood, passion and fertile silt. This book is a summer indundation of spellbinding stories, told by polymath, explorer and writer of beautiful lucid prose, Robert Twigger.
The physical Nile may have one of its sources in the Mountains of the Moon, where giant lobelias h In a parallel world of Story the River Nile is red, the colour of blood, passion and fertile silt. The physical Nile may have one of its sources in the Mountains of the Moon, where giant lobelias have flower spikes over fifteen feet long; but the Red Nile has a tributary in the land of the Iraquois Indians. In time it stretches from when the great river cascaded six miles down into the Tethys Sea as the Mediterranean was called in ancient times to the recent past and the uprising which deposed Mubarak.
Into this mighty time-space basin drain stories of ancient pharaohs, mad caliphs, alchemists and cruel sultans. Mamluks, Ottomans, European explorers, generals, colonisers and novelists follow; while battles and genocide ensure that the red of the Red Nile does not fade. For Robert Twigger there are no taboos. This book is not just entertainment. For me it was an eduation in history for which I am deeply grateful.
Jul 30, David Canford rated it it was amazing. It took me some time to get through this book as there is so much to absorb. I'm glad I kept coming back to it. There's so much fascinating stuff in it. The author has done an amazing research job. Jan 28, Andrea rated it liked it Shelves: africa , world-history. This author's technique and purpose just were not suited to me.