Cascoly Books: Best Books about Egypt

Cascoly Books - Best Books about Egypt

Even before the 2011 Jasmine revolution and other democracy movements across North Africa and the Middle East, there's amazing landmarks, history and culture to discover. From the ancient Romans and Carthaginians through the Arab, Berber and Ottoman times, it's an area that many Americans have neglected. Here are my recommendations for background reading on Egypt and North Africa

Guide books and Travel Books


Blue Guide Egypt If you have any interest in ancient Egyptian history or Islamic architecture, this book is essential. For exploring Old Cairo, it's worth its weight (and it is rather hefty) for the diagrams and details of mosques and other sites. In no other city except perhaps Venice are so many architectural styles so accessible in such a small area.

Lonely Planet Egypt : A Travel Survival Kit by Leanne Logan, et al Even with the Blue Guides, you'll still need some assistance for the details of where to stay and what to eat. The Lonely Planet has competition from the Rough Guide and Footprints series now, but all be helpful. Many of these guides are also available online, so you can cut and paste your own personal version, emphasizing your interests.

Insight Guides Cairo;This series of Insight guides help in planning your trip, and present a stunning photographic preview. But they're heavy and don't present as much traveler's information, so i'll leave them in my library for pre- and post- trip consults.

The Penguin Guide to Ancient Egypt ; William J. Murnane The Penguin historical series are another solid source of information.

A Guide to the Sacred Places of Ancient Egypt; by John Anthony West. Inormal;ly wouldn't recommend a book full of newage pseudoscience, but this volume also presents the best descriptions of Giza, Luxor, the Valley of the Kings,and numerous smaller sites of Ancient Egypt. John Anthony West is one of the more controversial of the newage brand of Egyptologists (such as the ultra-ancient sphinx) . But take West's theories with enough salt, his recommended walking tours are extremely helpful.

Pyramids & Pharaohs

From the hundreds of books available, here are some I've found most useful:

  • The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, the Tomb, the Royal Treasure (King Tut) by Nicholas Reeves
  • Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt by Peter A. Clayton
  • The Complete Valley of the Kings : Tombs and Treasures of Egypt's Greatest Pharaohs by C. N. Reeves, Richard H. Wilkinson, Nicholas Reeves
  • The Complete Pyramids: Solving the Ancient Mysteries (The Complete Series) by Mark Lehner


Lords of the Atlas: The Rise And Fall of the House of Glaoua 1893-1956 by Gavin Maxwell- a fascinating look at the dynamics of warlords and tribalism.

A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne A true classic, describing the Algerian independence movement against France. Fifty years later, these events still directly influence Algeria.

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