Three Empires on the Nile

  • by Dominic Green
  • Narrated by Stephen Hoye
  • 13 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A secular regime is toppled by Western intervention, but an Islamic backlash turns the liberators into occupiers. Caught between interventionists at home and fundamentalists abroad, a prime minister flounders as his ministers betray him, alliances fall apart, and a runaway general makes policy in the field. As the media accuse Western soldiers of barbarity and a region slides into chaos, the armies of God clash on an ancient river, and an accidental empire arises. This is not the Middle East of the early 21st century. It is Africa in the late 19th century, when the river Nile became the setting for an extraordinary collision between Europeans, Arabs, and Africans. A human and religious drama, the conflict defined the modern relationship between the West and the Islamic world. The story is not only essential for understanding the modern clash of civilizations but is also a gripping, epic, tragic adventure. Three Empires on the Nile tells of the rise of the first modern Islamic state and its fateful encounter with the British Empire of Queen Victoria. Ever since the self-proclaimed Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi gathered an army in the Sudan and besieged and captured Khartoum under its British overlord Charles Gordon, the dream of a new caliphate has haunted modern Islamists. Today, Shiite insurgents call themselves the Mahdi Army, and Sudan remains one of the great battle lines between Muslims and Christians, blacks and Arabs. The 19th-century origins of it all were even more dramatic and strange than today's headlines. In the hands of Dominic Green, the story of the Nile's three empires is an epic in the tradition of Kipling, the bard of empire, and Winston Churchill, who fought in the final destruction of the Mahdi's army. It is a sweeping and very modern tale of God and globalization, slavers and strategists, missionaries and messianists.

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What the Critics Say

"Green...has written a formidable work....He succeeds in not only untangling the complex politics of the Great Powers as they reacted to the crisis along the Nile but also explaining the equally opaque motivations of the shadowy Mahdi and his followers as they pursued their jihad." (Publishers Weekly)
"Green achieves a vividly popular account of Britain's ascendance in Egypt and Sudan." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Astoundingly good

I've read many great books about the Middle East (by authors like Lawrence Wright, David Fromkin, Rory Stewart, Michael Oren, and Peter Hopkirk) and this one ranks right there with the best of them. Green is a masterful storyteller - I found myself running, cleaning, and doing my laundry solely to listen to it! As he crazy-glues you to the book (or your headphones in this case), Green deftly covers every important influence on the Nile watershed in the late nineteenth century - British, French, Egyptian, and Ottoman politics, slavery, the scramble for africa (Egypt wanted to be a colonial power too!), the British media, Sudanese religious practices, and great vignettes of about ten or so main characters. The only thing he leaves out is the American civil war veterans' quiet but profound influence on Egypt's military and education practices (see Oren's Power, Faith and Fantasy on that).

In addition, Stephen Hoy is one of my top 5 favorite narrators, and I've heard at least 25. His reading is awesome. You will love this book.
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- Sean O'Keefe

An narrative that captured the spirit of an age

I like the narrative for the emotional framing rather than historical accuracy, emotional narrative makes a history very entertaining, so I'd suggest one to read this as a well researched historical novel than serious history, the book captured the spirit and inherent contradiction of British imperialism incredibly well. Loved it.
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- Chi-Hung

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-23-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio