Egypt: A Short History

Egypt: A Short History

Egypt: A Short History

Egypt: A Short History


This is a sweeping, colorful, and concise narrative history of Egypt from the beginning of human settlement in the Nile River valley 5000 years ago to the present day. Accessible, authoritative, and richly illustrated, this is an ideal introduction and guide to Egypt's long, brilliant, and complex history for general readers, tourists, and anyone else who wants a better understanding of this vibrant and fascinating country, one that has played a central role in world history for millennia--and that continues to do so today.

Respected historian Robert Tignor, who has lived in Egypt at different times over the course of five decades, covers all the major eras of the country's ancient, modern, and recent history. A cradle of civilization, ancient Egypt developed a unique and influential culture that featured a centralized monarchy, sophisticated art and technology, and monumental architecture in the form of pyramids and temples. But the great age of the pharaohs is just the beginning of the story and Egypt: A Short History also gives a rich account of the tumultuous history that followed--from Greek and Roman conquests, the rise of Christianity, Arab-Muslim triumph, and Egypt's incorporation into powerful Islamic empires to Napoleon's 1798 invasion, the country's absorption into the British Empire, and modern, postcolonial Egypt under Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak.

This book provides an indispensable key to Egypt in all its layers--ancient and modern, Greek and Roman, and Christian and Islamic.


I have been involved with Egypt and Egyptians for half a century, though I hardly imagined when I first began to travel to Egypt that late in my scholarly life I would try to write a brief and synthetic essay on the history of a country as rich as any territory in historical experiences. I first arrived in the country in 1960 in pursuit of a Ph.D. in history. I was investigating the British occupation of Egypt during the Cromer years, with a particular view of understanding the nature of the British impact on Egyptians, whether for good or for ill. Over the years my interest in the modern history of Egypt and my affection for the Egyptian people grew with each new Egyptcentered research project and each new sojourn in the country, many of which were for extended periods. Although I am a modern historian, occasionally I was pressed into writing overview histories of Egypt, but only from the Arab-Muslim conquest of the country in the seventh century to the present. Repeated queries from friends eager to visit Egypt who pressed me to recommend books that would prepare them for their sightseeing, especially books that offered brief and reliable histories of Egypt from the earliest days to the present, left me in a quandary. The tourist literature is abundant. There are superb travel guidebooks, works that contain magnificent illustrations of the antiquities, the architecture of Cairo, and the favored tourist spas, but I had nothing to recommend that covered in a brief and accessible form the history of the country from the pharaohs to the present. I decided to try my hand at such a study.

For me the most daunting aspect of the assignment was surveying the history of Egypt before the arrival of Arab Muslims. I knew that the literature on the pharaohs, the Greeks, and the Romans in . . .

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