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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ancient Egypt in 101 Questions and Answers (Cornell University Press), by Thomas Schneider

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No ancient civilization exerts the same fascination over the popular imagination as Egypt. Perhaps the scale of the monuments they left behind is the reason for the wonder they arouse. Egyptologist Thomas Schneider arranges his easily readable, 101-level introduction to the subject as a series of questions (many of them suitable for short midterm essays) followed by brief answers. The sharp reader will discern from his mini-essays that history is not an exact science, the elements don’t necessarily add up and what happened in the past is often in dispute. What we know depends not only on the evidence that survived, but how the clues are interpreted. As Schneider points out, more is known about the rulers of Egypt than their subjects, because they were the ones that kept written records while everyone else was left in the dust.