Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient EgyptTitle:The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt
Author: Kara Cooney
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown Publishing, October 14, 2014
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography 
Source/Format: Blogging for Books, Paperback 

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.

Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power...


My Thoughts:

By no means am I an expert on Ancient Egypt; however, the subject does interest me—which is my main reason for reading this book. Kara Cooney was certainly enthusiastic about Hatshepsut’s life, and that enthusiasm is something that translated into her writing.

Still, as is true with almost every book, there were things I liked as well as details that I didn’t—fiction and nonfiction are in the same boat.

I’ll start with what I liked:

I haven’t heard much about Hatshepsut and I wanted to know more. This book was great in terms of information. It illustrated the boundaries set for women of the time period, and painted a clear—partially speculated—picture of what Hatshepsut’s life might have been like as the daughter of Thutmose I. Clearly Ahmes (Hatshepsut’s mother) and Hatshepsut were both dynamic women who knew how to grasp power and keep it in a society that put so many limitations on royal women.

Things that fit in between:

This book was informative—Cooney clearly did her research—but it also had a lot of speculation about Hatshepsut’s life—things like reactions and motivations—mixed in with solid facts. Some details had to be speculated, since there was a clear lack of available information to fill in the blanks. However, I expected that, since the author’s note at the very beginning of the book states what Cooney intended to do with the facts she had.

What I didn’t like:

This book was written well; however, there were some parts that I found to be repetitive. Some of the paragraphs seemed to restate information already presented on other pages. But in terms of dislikes, this issue wasn’t one that was too big of a problem.

Overall, I liked The Woman who would be King.

Rating 3/5
I received this book from Blogging for Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!

About the Author...

(From the Hardcover edition.)

KARA COONEY is an associate professor of Egyptian art and architecture at UCLA in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. In 2005, she was co-curator of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Cooney produced a comparative archaeology series entitled Out of Egypt, which aired on the Discovery Channel and is streaming on Netflix.

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