Red Nile: The Biography of the World's Greatest River

Red Nile: The Biography of the World's Greatest River

Hardback Weidenfeld and Nicholson

By (author) Robert Twigger

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  • Publisher: WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON
  • Format: Hardback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 236mm x 44mm | 800g
  • Publication date: 23 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0297866494
  • ISBN 13: 9780297866497
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations (black and white, and colour), maps (black and white, and colour)
  • Sales rank: 240,893

Product description

So much begins on the banks of the Nile: all religion, all life, all stories, the script we write in, the language we speak, the gods, the legends and the names of stars. This mighty river that flows through a quarter of all Africa has been history's greatest and most sustained creator. In this dazzling, idiosyncratic journey from ancient times to the Arab Spring, Robert Twigger weaves a Nile narrative like no other. Along the way we meet crocodiles and caliphs, nineteenth-century adventurers and twentieth-century novelists, biblical prophets and classical lovers, dam-builders and crusaders. As he navigates a meandering course through the history of the world's greatest river, he plucks the most intriguing, colourful and dramatic stories - truly a Nile red in tooth and claw. The result is both an epic journey through the whole sweep of human (and pre-human) history, and an intimate biography of the curious life of this great river, overflowing with stories of excess, love, passion, splendour and violence.

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Author information

Robert Twigger is a British author, poet and adventurer. After attending Oxford University he trained with the Tokyo Riot Police, which became the subject of his bestselling book Angry White Pyjamas. He has been awarded the Newdigate Prize for poetry, the Somerset Maugham Award for Literature and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. He led the expedition that was the first to cross the Great Sand Sea of the Egyptian Sahara solely on foot, and another that was the first to cross Western Canada in a birchbark canoe since 1793. He is the author of eight books, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as several collections of poetry.

Review quote

Twigger's book on the history of the river Nile is one of the those unexpected great reads... This is a non-fiction book that reads like a great, page-turning novel. CATHOLIC HERALD Red Nile is a scintillatingly colourful account of a river and a region that explorer/adventurer Twigger knows well... probably the author's magnum opus. SUNDAY TIMES Red Nile by Robert Twigger is how history should be written and taught. The reader is taken on a sweeping journey through the endless story of the Nile, where so much began and so much is still happening. -- Robin Hanbury-Tenison COUNTRY LIFE gives great insight into a place where the growth of civilisation is so closely lined to the power of nature. GOOD BOOK GUIDE Robert Twigger's ambitious biography of the Nile is an unexpected triumph...a scintillatingly colourful account of a river and a region Twigger knows intimately...an elegiac moving book...hugely entertaining...probably the author's magnum opus -- James McConnachie THE SUNDAY TIMES a tour de force; a brilliantly written scrapbook of history and travel, geography and science, myth and legend both ancient and modern... Twigger allows the river's ever changing shape to inform this engrossing biography. It's a vast subject but he never becomes overwhelmed by the material and has written an elegant, amusing and fascinating book, buoyed by his own enthusiasm, that draws you along in its current -- Carl Wilkinson FINANCIAL TIMES Like the vast, fast-flowing river itself with its waters teeming with crocodiles, hippopotami and bilharzia, so Red Nile teems with arcane facts and high spirited asides... Red Nile provides a feast of quirky, fascinating bits of knowledge, both funny and memorable -- Caroline Moorehead THE SPECTATOR Crocodiles, dams, feluccas, pharaohs and papyrus, disputation about sources, literary and riverine, myths and realities of fecundity: only someone as crazy as Robert Twigger would attempt to tell the whole story of the Nile from soup to nuts, yet in Red Nile that's exactly what he has done, filtering the vast flood of his subject matter through an infectious individual style -- Giles Foden CONDE NAST TRAVELLER Using the physical presence of the river, the tumultuous recent events that have occurred along it and his own experiences... Twigger succeeds in capturing the key features of Africa's greatest river: that it is wide-reaching as it is long, touches every era of human history, from nobility to the baseless violence that has so often stained the waters red -- Anthony Sattin THE SUNDAY TIMES the Nile's own source has always been mysterious - in the Ethiopian highlands of in the Kagera River, which flows into Lake Victoria and on into the Nile proper, or in Lake Tanganyika? This is one of the previously unanswered questions tackled by Robert Twigger in this impressive book - a biography of the River Nile. [Twigger] knows the geography of this region well and is equally au fait with its turbulent history...many entertaining snippets of information -- Theo Walden THE LADY if you have read Twigger before, you will know to expect divergence, wit, a weakness with the esoteric, an ability to make even the most obscure details seem relevant. All of which is perfectly suited to this subject and makes for an entertaining and absorbing read THE OBSERVER Hugely impressive in its research, Red Nile is a torrent of fanatical rulers, assassinations, wild explorers and dastardly goings-on -- Philip Marsden MAIL ON SUNDAY The Nile has attracted adventurers since ancient times, and Twigger heads for the source of the river... The history of the river and the countries it passes through is interwoven with many interesting snippets - for example that Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat said that the "attractive lines of the slim-fit uniform would be spoilt by wearing a bullet-proof vest" on the day he was assassinated -- Tom Chesshyre THE TIMES Red Nile's mixture of factual and fictional narratives of heroic adventurers, lost tribes, vanished cities, trackless forests and lethal wildlife brought me back to the pleasures I derived as a child from reading old copies of the Boy's Own Paper and Chums Annual TLS Taking a characteristically idiosyncratic approach, [Twigger] tells the river's history through its most colourful stories, from Egypt's racy mythology to the visionaries and madmen who have plied its waters. Combining wide-ranging knowledge with first-hand forays upstream, it's a suitably Nilean accomplishment. A meandering insight of genuine depth LONELY PLANET TRAVELLER In Twigger's biography of 'the world's greatest river', he tackles the source of ancient Biblical tales through to exploring the downfall of Mubarak. There's enough bloody, treacherous history to make Game of Thrones look like a Mr Men book, which is to say that it's a relentlessly good read...a fresh revitalising dunk into these much-navigated waters WANDERLUST Explorer Robert Twigger has sailed Canada in a birch-bark canoe and walked the Egyptian Sahara. Now, he explores the Nile, taking in traces left by Cleopatra, Moses, Agatha Christie and the world's deadliest creature, the Nile crocodile CARA (AER LINGUS) magazine You'd be right to think that the world's longest river would have enough history to fill a book 12 times this size. Fortunately, that's the delight of Twigger's latest work: it filters out the drab and pumps in the peculiar without missing any crucial undulations along the way. Expect tales of passion, violence and splendour EASYJET TRAVELLER INFLIGHT MAGAZINE a compelling take on thousands of years of life on the banks of the world's longest river ... Twigger - an engaging author whose CV includes training in martial arts with the Tokyo riot police and an attempt to capture a nine-metre-long python - provides us with a leisurely, readable collection of stories that introduce us to a wide cast of authors and explorers, fierce baboons and murderous crocodiles -- Joyce Tyldesley BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE Twigger has lived in Cairo for seven years, is married to an Egyptian and stares at the Nile every day from his study; he has fallen in the Nile, swum the Nile, drunk the waters of the Nile, kayaked and rafted, and travelled the length of it by plane. He is, in fact, an Old Hand, Twigger of the Nile... Rambling, discursive, chatty, anecdotal, funny... it's a series of ripping yarns, and highly entertaining... I think Twigger may have invented a new genre - the Ramblelogue -- Robert Carver THE INDEPENDENT Intrepid and amusing, Twigger delivers a deeper (and happier) view of Egypt - and its neighbours - than today's headlines allow. With its lavish cargo of histories, myths and full-on ripping yarns, his journey down the river flows fast and strong i NEWSPAPER this book will teach you a great deal: from the wisdom of avoiding hippos, crocodiles and baboons to the central role played by the river in the earliest stages of human history...Twigger's accounts are both reliable and entertaining...this is a wide-ranging and well-researched book. All of the usual suspects are here - from Cleopatra to the Rosetta Stone - but Twigger has unearthed an impressive number of neglected facts and tales -- Jonathan Wright GEOGRAPHICAL fuses history and geography with a travelogue and cultural history of the peoples who have made their home along the river, and it gives great insight into a place where the growth of civilisation is so closely linked to the power of nature GOOD BOOK GUIDE All to Twigger's credit, his masterful and enthusiastic prose guides readers on a pleasing passage through the river's unbelievable past, from biblical tales to the recent Arab spring. He strikes the perfect balance, creatively covering crucial elements while leaving out the lacklustre and pouring in plenty of gripping stories. Loaded with interesting asides...Red Nile is also disarmingly charming and witty at times. Twigger's years of literary research and on-the-ground experience in Africa shine through in this tour de force TRAVEL AFRICA Twigger treats us to an entertaining and idiosyncratic journey from prehistoric and ancient times right up to the Arab Spring. This is a book that will satisfy both the serious student and the casual reader. The former will delight in a close reading of the text and will learn a lot from what is, in essence, a serious academic study. The latter will enjoy dipping into it and the many anecdotes, and the author's humorous turn of phrase... Highly recommended HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW

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