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AUC Press's Description
In 1798, for the first time since the Crusades, western armies landed in the Middle East, initiating a confrontation with far-reaching implications. The French, infused with the fire of revolution and republicanism, and imbued with the idealism of the Enlightenment, set out for glory and riches. Their invasion of Egypt, a rebellious province of the sprawling Ottoman Empire, also aimed to weaken British communications with India. They were led by an ambitious and charismatic young general, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Shedding new light on the ensuing events, acclaimed historian Juan Cole tells this stirring story through the experiences of soldiers and observers on both sides of the conflict—giving full voice to Muslim points of view. He highlights the mutual incomprehension and the attempts to understand the opportunities and limits of exchange between the two branches of Mediterranean civilization. Beyond detailing the machinations of the French high command, Cole paints a vivid tableau of personal encounters—French scientists seeking to increase their knowledge in a new landscape, French soldiers pursuing romantic dalliances across cultures, and peasants and tribesmen launching determined insurrections.
From the unprecedented intellectual challenge for Muslim religious figures to the new public roles adopted by Egyptian women, Napoleon’s impact went beyond the battlefield and still resonates in modern relations between the west and the Middle East.