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When 28-year-old Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, his band of 50,000 soldiers and sailors was accompanied by 151 Parisian scientists and artists, who laid the groundwork for what became Egyptology. Ten of these remarkable men are the focus of Burleigh's narrative. Among them, three of the most prominent were the lowborn, pugnacious mathematician Gaspard Monge, a dedicated revolutionary who invented descriptive geometry; the painfully shy chemist Claude-Louis Berthollet, who invented new ways to make gunpowder and steel; and the witty artist and diplomat Dominique-Vivant Denon, who produced 200 architecturally precise sketches of Egyptian ruins and a bestselling travelogue; later he became Napoleon's first director of the Louvre Museum. The survivors of the team brought home a vast body of knowledge, but surrendered their greatest discovery, the Rosetta Stone, to conquering British troops. The result of the savants' work was the 24-volume Description of Egypt, magnificently illustrated with engravings and maps, which helped launch Egyptomania and the rape of the Nile, though Burleigh's discussion of this is scanty. Still, Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) offers an absorbing glimpse of Napoleon's thwarted bid for a grand French empire and its intellectual fruits. 8 pages of b&w photos.
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“With an easy style and an eye for striking detail, Burleigh concentrates on 151 French scientists, scholars and students who joined the expedition, tempted by hero worship of Napoleon and the prospect of scientific adventure.” (Associated Press)
“Burleigh spotlights the Indiana Jones-esque scientists who joined Napoleon’s Egyptian invasion during the late 18th century.” (People)
Several reviewers have panned this work.
I'm not hung up on the absolute historical correctness of all the boo-boo's Napoleon made in Egypt. Read more
Love Napoleon stuff. Loved this, in particular! Can't wait for next stay in Paris to ID the streets named after savants...Published 4 months ago by Walton M Chalmers
This book focuses on the scholars and scientists who went with Napoleon when he invaded Egypt. It has some historical merit. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mysterious Lady
Nina Burleigh did an outstanding job describing France's journey into Egypt at the beginning of the 19th century with Napoleon leading an army of 50,000 Frenchmen.Published 9 months ago by David
Excellent read, for anyone interested in the history, colonization and the first Europeans amazement of Egypt.Published 12 months ago by Kathleen Murphy-Azzouni
A book about the time the French were in Egypt and the scientists that went along with the army. Interesting bio's on engineers, inventors, historians and more. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Glenn D. Robinson
I'm interested in the archaeological side of Napoleon's expedition and having seen copies of the Description de l'Egypt I was interested in the men behind that. Read morePublished on May 24, 2013 by Teresa J
A great, punchy account of the Scientific Expedition to Egypt drawn from the journals of the scientists themselves.
An engaging read!