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Very disappointing This book is about the scientists and scholars that accompanied Napoleon in his quest to invade Egypt in 1798, not about the invasion itself.Sadly, the author has a typical orientalist view of the French invasion, or expedition , to Egypt According to her, the French, regardless of all their crimes and brutality that they have committed in Egypt, are civilized and enlightened because they had fancy French names, and eat baguettes and croissants While the Arabs who were generous to them were naive, and the ones that fought back to protect their homeland were backward extremists and zealots Well, maybe the part about the baguettes wasn t true, but you get the idea I just stopped half way through, and couldn t finish it. At the end of the 18th century France, eager to establish itself as a colonial power on a par with its neighbor and rival, England, sent General and celebrity Napoleon at the head of an army to Egypt to secure the land At the time Egypt was a legendary place Like any territory hovering at the edge of reason all sorts of mythical attributes were assigned to it Hieroglyphics were than words, they were magical writing.Along with the army, a select force of the best french students, scientists, and teachers was sent to document the land pragmatically they were also to devise the means by which France could enforce its way of living in a novel terrain amidst a foreign people.In brief, things didn t turn out so well The desert brutalized the unaccustomed soldiers and savants, the natives were not well subjugated, the English had the military advantage, and the Black Plague decimated the occupier s ranks Napoleon left in disgrace, leaving those he left behind to suffer the reality of France s folly, yet managed to translate his disgrace into victory once back in France.Using this as a backdrop Mirage explores the stories of the talented intellectuals who made that historic journey They opened Egypt to western society, cataloging ruins and mummies, flora and fauna, and unearthing what became key to later unlocking the real and non magical meaning of Hieroglyphics, the Rosetta Stone Ironically enough the Rosetta Stone now 20009 sits in the British Museum as it was captured by the English shortly after its discovery by the French After contact French society became enamoured of things Egyptian so too the indigenous of Egypt began to rediscover the value of the ruins they occupied, and stopped using them only as convenient places to dump garbage and bodies or sources of building materials So too was it that modern archaeology began, and with it the looting of ancient artefacts and relics.As I see it there are two main themes in this history that of the intellectual s compromise with power, and the often painful chaos that accompanies great transitions General Napoleon left Egypt to later become Emperor, student savants came to Egypt boys and returned as men, the Revolution in France crested, and the Age of Reason gave way to the Romantic Era With belly usually full and mind not occupied on mere survival the intellectual is empowered to critique the cruelty of the system that makes possible their lives A soldier s honor is steeped in pain of rulers even the best must come to terms with the blood shed at their behest, the myth of peace No savant will ever abolish suffering, what then are the angels of their enterprise Thank you GoodReads for the spellcheck otherwise this review would have been marred by some cat named Napolean. @FREE DOWNLOAD ⚶ Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt Ý Little Than Two Hundred Years Ago, Only The Most Reckless Or Eccentric Europeans Had Dared Traverse The Unmapped Territory Of The Modern Day Middle East Its History And Peoples Were The Subject Of Much Myth And Speculation And No Region Aroused Greater Interest Than Egypt, Where Reports Of Mysterious Monuments, Inscrutable Hieroglyphics, Rare Silks And Spices, And Rumors Of Lost Magical Knowledge Tantalized Dreamers And Taunted The Power HungryIt Was Not Until , When An Unlikely Band Of Scientific Explorers Traveled From Paris To The Nile Valley, That Westerners Received Their First Real Glimpse Of What Lay Beyond The Mediterranean SeaUnder The Command Of Napoleon Bonaparte And The French Army, A Small And Little Known Corps Of Paris S Brightest Intellectual Lights Left The Safety Of Their Laboratories, Studios, And Classrooms To Embark On A Thirty Day Crossing Into The Unknown Some Never To See French Shores Again Over Astronomers, Mathematicians, Naturalists, Physicists, Doctors, Chemists, Engineers, Botanists, Artists Even A Poet And A Musicologist Accompanied Napoleon S Troops Into Egypt Carrying Pencils Instead Of Swords, Specimen Jars Instead Of Field Guns, These Highly Accomplished Men Participated In The First Large Scale Interaction Between Europeans And Muslims Of The Modern Era And Many Lived To Tell The TaleHazarding Hunger, Hardship, Uncertainty, And Disease, Napoleon S Scientists Risked Their Lives In Pursuit Of Discovery They Approached The Land Not As Colonizers, But As Experts In Their Fields Of Scholarship, Meticulously Categorizing And Collecting Their Finds From The Ruins Of The Colossal Pyramids To The Smallest Insects To The Legendary Rosetta StoneThose Who Survived The Three Year Expedition Compiled An Exhaustive Encyclopedia Of Egypt, Twenty Three Volumes In Length, Which Secured Their Place In History As The World S Earliest Known Archaeologists Unraveling The Mysteries That Had Befuddled Europeans For Centuries, Napoleon S Scientists Were The First To Document The Astonishing Accomplishments Of A Lost Civilization Before The Dark Shadow Of Empire Building Took Africa And The Middle East By StormInternationally Acclaimed Journalist Nina Burleigh Brings Readers Back To A Little Known Landmark Adventure At The Dawn Of The Modern Era One That Ultimately Revealed The Deepest Secrets Of Ancient Egypt To A Very Curious Continent An interesting but poorly organized account of Napoleon s ill conceived invasion of Egypt While the subject matter was interesting and the prose engaging, the author frequently repeated herself, and many tidbits of information were repeated almost verbatim in several chapters There was an attempt, I think, to find a satisfying middle ground between a chronological account of the invasion and a biographical account for each of the scientists involved Regardless of organization, I learned a lot about the time, and the author s excellent use of primary source material painted a vivid picture of Egypt at the turn of the nineteenth century. Despite what I do for a living, I get easily bored with history books Not this one A great cast of characters and a great setting It answered one of my biggest questions as a tourist to the British Museum how did the Rosetta Stone end up in England if Napoleon discovered it As for Napoleon, he comes off looking worse than expected, his Egyptian expedition a bigger disaster than I d imagined. I found this to be a great introduction into the scientific and political climate of the time period I had no real knowledge of what Egypt was like at this time, so I was particularly interested in how the people lived, and how the soldiers and scientists adjusted, not just what finds and developments they were making I would definitely recommend as a supplement to a history or archeology class. I really don t like Napoleon. I wanted to like this book than I did It s filled with colorful characters adrift in unfamiliar surroundings, forced to improvise, explore, and keep from turning on each other Juicy anecdotes abound, and the writing is smooth and engaging The narrative moves along efficiently, balancing portraits of individual scientists with a broader account of the French expedition to Egypt In the end, though, the details never seemed to fully cohere into an argument for the significance of the French scholars activities of why or how the expedition should figure in our understanding of later developments Additionally, we don t get a sense of how the events in Egypt might shed light on the normal scientific practices and assumptions of Napoleonic France, or of the responses to French science from Muslim thinkers This is a pleasant read, but it leaves the reader wanting something substantial. Napoleon s core of scientific adventurers in Egypt is arguably the greatest singular event to straddle those two reductive Ages of European history ie the Enlightenment and the Romantic It is also a complete disaster What a ride Of course, Mirage is great as an audiobook for road trips b c the actor takes relish with all those French names I mean relish in the most literal sense.With a few tweaks, Mirage would also serve well as a turn based strategy game I m thinking Risk meets Oregon Trail of the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium fame Your Engineers capture Hathor Temple Retrieve Dendera zodiac Skill points needed 15 You don t have enough points Send to Cairo for Engineers.Attack Marmaduke HordeFight points needed 64You don t have enough points Your bones shall add sands unto the desert. The stories recounted in this book are fascinating and it s sobering to realize how readily men s lives were thrown away because of Napoleon s delusions I found the author s style sensationalist at times She was also occasionally incorrect with small details As an art historian, the one that leapt out to me was her discussion of a famous painting of Napoleon at Jaffa as by Jacques Louis David, The painting in question is by Baron Gros If such an obvious art historical error was made, what errors might have occurred in fields other than my own The sufferings of the scientists who Napoleon led to Egypt were extraordinary, and it is interesting to read of their discoveries and the lengths many went to for their studies.