Monday, December 20, 2021

The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World by Kara Cooney


This was such a frustrating read for me because I really wanted to like it. Unlike some of the reviewers for this book, I do share the author's politics, and I appreciated the way that Cooney discussed the colonist appropriation and whitewashing of Ancient Egypt, and how the way that we, in the modern world, glorify it is analogous to the way we (generic we) fetishize strongman leaders and absolute rule.

Unfortunately, some of these comparisons ended up feeling a bit like a stretch, which made the book feel like a painfully long TED talk or a padded-out op-ed piece. Learning that Cheops/Khufu was a jerk and Ankhenaten was just shy of a cult leader, for example, was really interesting, but it couldn't really carry the whole book, which had the dry tone of a textbook. It's clear that the author is passionate about her research and her views and I think that really comes across in the writing, it just wasn't as engaging as I would have hoped.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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