Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction

Books on Tape. Feb. 2023. 13:43 hrs. ISBN 9780593677438. $95. HIST
Olson (Madame Fourcade’s Secret War) offers a riveting biography of the pioneering French Egyptologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt. Desroches-Noblecourt became interested in Egypt as a child in Paris just after WWI. She avidly studied archaeology while attending the École du Louvre, and in the 1930s, she was appointed as a project manager in the Louvre’s antiquities department. She participated in efforts to safeguard the Louvre’s treasures during World War II and joined the French Resistance during the war. As a curator for the Louvre, she was among the few Westerners allowed to continue her work in Egypt when the country essentially closed its borders in the 1950s. When the Aswan High Dam project was proposed, she spearheaded a global plan to save the temple of Abu Simbel and several smaller temples in the region, which were in danger of being flooded. Desroches-Noblecourt’s tireless efforts, involving careful diplomacy and international cooperation, resulted in the World Heritage Site program. Lisa Flanagan’s superb narration enhances the telling of this remarkable story, communicating Desroches-Noblecourt’s passion and tenacity in daunting and often unfriendly circumstances.
VERDICT Fans of history and Egyptology will be inspired by Olson’s account, which narrator Flanagan delivers with clarity and nuance. A gripping and highly recommended audio.
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