In this vivid and timely history, Juan Cole tells the story of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Revealing the young general's reasons for leading the expedition against Egypt in 1798 and showcasing his fascinating views of the Orient, Cole delves into the psychology of the military titan and his entourage. He paints a multi-faceted portrait of the daily travails of the soldiers in Napoleon's army, including how they imagined Egypt, how their expectations differed from what they found, and how they grappled with military challenges in a foreign land. Cole ultimately reveals how Napoleon's invasion, the first modern attempt to invade the Arab world, invented and crystallized the rhetoric of liberal imperialism.
You can visit Juan Cole's Blog, Informed Comment at http://www.juancole.com/
Most books on the expedition focus on the outsize characters of Napoleon and his staff, men like his towering second in command, Gen. Jean-Baptiste Kleber, who was eventually stabbed to death by a fanatical Muslim, or Gen. Jacques Menou, who converted to Islam. But in Napoleon's Egypt, Juan Cole…mostly ignores these larger-than-life characters to present the invasion and occupation through Egyptian eyes. Cole says his work "attends more closely than have others...to the interplay of the ideas of the French revolutionary period with Ottoman and Egyptian ways of life," and what it lacks in narrative drive and coherence, it makes up for in fascinating quotations, mostly from contemporary memoirs and diaries, and in an analysis that suggests comparisons to the current American adventure in Iraq.