Real People/Real Stories meets the third Thursday of each month to explore the best in nonfiction history, biography, science, nature, and the arts.
This month’s selection is Napoleon in Egypt by Paul Strathern.
In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte, only twenty-eight, set sail for Egypt with a collection of soldiers, scholars, artists, scientists, and inventors, determined to establish an Eastern empire. But when they encountered a Muslim army led by the feared Murad Bey, what began as a crusade for glory degenerated into chaos and a grim war of attrition.
“Paul Strathern’s enthralling description of this bizarre imperial adventure reads like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness…. As a piece of storytelling, it is a masterpiece.” —Daily Telegraph
“A compelling narrative of an epic collision between two civilizations…. Evok[ing] the incredible hardships endured by French soldiers in an unforgiving land. At the same time, he offers a poignant view of a Muslim society overwhelmed by invaders. … Strathern’s skillful use of memoir and other primary sources brings to life one of the most fascinating campaigns in military history.”—Library Journal, starred review
“[Strathern] has written a stirring narrative of the Egyptian adventure, which simultaneously demonstrates how Napoleon’s experiences in Egypt foreshadowed many aspects of his later rule in France.…This is popular narrative history at its best.” — Independent