As interesting and informative as learning books can be, the reading of them is not always easy and makes impressive demands on the attention. Proper attention, that is. And that’s if you already have a vague idea of what the book is about (as, quite often, what you bring to the learning book is just as important as what the learning book brings to you, so that if you know nothing and naively think it will be easy to pick something up and simply discover proper attention might well require the re-reading of various bits and the taking of moments to remember who such-and-such a person was and why they did what they did)). For history in particular there are not that many titles that cater for the vast majority who have not got seven years to spare to really study a subject.
So, Toby Wilkinson’s The Rise & Fall of Ancient Egypt is one of those rare things – a big, fat impressive tome, the completion of which will leave you feeling immensely smug, immeasurably fascinated and thoroughly informed (unless, like me, you have the recall facility of a gnat). But better than all of that is that you can zip through it in almost no time (which I did) and fully appreciate the scope of over three thousand years of civilisation and finish with a pretty good idea of what happened and feel entertained. Quite possibly the best history book I’ve read in a very, very long time (and I read a lot of them, and I stop reading a lot more of them).