26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2001
I couldn't agree more with the reviewer from Georgia who mentioned that this book is a great idea betrayed by an utter lack of thoroughness. Indeed, and without belaboring what has already been said in that review, this potentially valuable idea (for somebody else's book) is quite a frustrating read. And it does seem like more of an annotated bibliography than a real study of/comparison between competing notions of ideas about Akhenaten. While much of the information provided is interesting, there is basically no room for investigation, for follow-through, for earnest authorial postulation. Too, I found the book a lumpy piece of writing. For any American-educated scholar there seems to exist a wholly annoying and singular European mode of academc writing that would drive the MLA absolutely insane. Whereas parts of this book are utterly fascinating, such as the discussion of the aborted Akhenaten film script by the late Derek Jarman, such parts are touched upon ever so slightly . . . The idea of this book rates an A for me, but the combination of iffy execution and alarming brevity (and PRICE!) cause me to caution anyone, especially poor graduate students, from plunking down a veritable jackpot wad only to receive this disappointing scholarly effort.
34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2001
The idea of a book on the different interpretations and appropriations of Akhenaten and his religion is simply wonderful, and I learned a lot of names and titles from this book which will be useful for further research. The book is also well-produced, and contains some very good illustrations. But it is ultimately more frustrating than enjoyable. I was annoyed by the superficiality of EVERY discussion. The author simply tries to cover too much territory in only 184 pages of text, which means that none of it is covered well. A book of double the length would actually have been more readable if it had included more substantive discussions. Lists of names and titles with brief and superficial synopses quickly become tedious. Parts of this book read like an annotated bibliography. Also annoying is the author's totally needless use of postmodern academic jargon and his politically correct pandering to certain privileged minorities. His diplomatic pussyfooting is truly remarkable in his discussion of Afrocentrist interpretations of Akhenaten. He carefully avoids pointing out blatant falsehoods and distortions, and he treats the use of completely fictitious and childish etymologies as merely a charming Negro folk custom without commenting on whether such etymologies are a good method for unearthing historical facts. This is a tedious, grossly overpriced, and morally compromised book. A waste of time and money.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2001
Dominic Montserrat has succeeded in bringing to us a survey of the different myths, legends and scholarship that have surrounded the elusive Akhenaten and the finds at Amarna. Starting out with the thesis that how people illuminate this historical figure is directly linked with who those people are and what they are trying to accomplish. He proves this through an entertaining look at all the incarnations Akhenaten has had in our society since his discovery over a hundred years ago--as political, social, religious and even sexual icon. I appreciated the tone of this work because it was neither condemning, condescending or mocking of these different views but rather did a good job of showing how varied groups viewed him as the hero in antiquity that lent validation to who they were (are). However, it is hard not to smirk at least at how seemingly diametrically opposed groups, such as Nazis and homosexuals, could both see Akhenaten as their distant progenitor. Montserrat also looks at the different depictions of this period in fiction and movies, and even the opera of Phillip Glass. He also puts the scholarship of Amarna in the context of the scholars who wrote it and the sources from which they got their information. It is interesting to see the changing views of this intriguing period of Egyptian history and why. Montserrat furthermore succeeds by offering no opinion of his own as to who he thinks Akhenaten was. This would only further muddy the water and cause him to become part of his own thesis. I agree with him to leave Akhenaten as perhaps all things to all people.
Well researched and well written! If you are interested in Akhenaten or in how historical figures are used in modern times, buy this book!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2010
If you are looking for a biography of Akhenaten, this is not the book for you. This book is, in fact, a fascinating study on how different times and cultures have viewed Akhenaten, and their own biases for the way they view him and the ways they attempt to use him. I read this book at the recommendation of Dr. Aidan Dodson, and I thank him for pointing me to it. Akhenaten is still very much a figure of controversy today, used by a wide variety of groups for personal and political goals. He has been seen as a proto-Christ figure, the world's first known transgendered individual, and a poster child for Marfan's Syndrome, just to name a few. I will admit to having a bit of trouble remaining calm while reading the section dealing with the Afrocentrists, as their attempts to re-write ancient Egyptian history (in direct opposition to actual archaeological data) for their own political agendas & egos are one of my own pet peeves. I include this comment as an example of the true topic of this book - that the hows and whys of people's views of Akhenaten can give you insights into their own biases and viewpoints. This is one for anthropologists and students of human behavior.