This book presents an analysis of how we make ourselves easy marks for the next charismatic authoritarian to come along. It's high time we see how fetishism of ancient cultures is used to prop up modern power grabs.
Cooney accomplishes this through a careful reframing of how we look at these pharaohs and the monuments that they left behind. Reading about these rulers in harsher terms is enlightening and different. Usually, I read about these rulers being put up on a pedestal, literally. Most of these rulers' actions, however, were precise moves done for power, authority and absolute rule making sure that their family stayed on top.
It was very interesting to see how Khufu built the Great Pyramid, the only wonder of the ancient world still standing. The technology used to build the pyramid was advanced and the view is amazing. How exactly Khufu's engineers accomplished building the Great Pyramid is a secret taken to the grave. Khufu's reign was most likely one of a tyrant, with little respect for the people of Egypt. The fact that he built such a large temple to himself shows an insecurity in his rule and created himself as a god to his people. Senwosret III created an image of himself as a tired leader while being a master strategist. Senwosret III churned out propaganda and took hold of Egypt's elite to establish supremacy only to have everything fall apart shortly after his rule was over. Akhenaten, who we might know better by his wife, Nefertiti used his rule to create a new political-religious agenda and threw Egypt into a series of destabilizing changes. The ideas seemed to create equality, but Akhenaten used them to control those who did not choose his way. Ramses the Great used his rule to create an image that most people still know today, a celebrity kingship. He publicized himself throughout Egypt during his long reign so that many people today still believe everything he told about himself. Taharqa wanted to unify Egypt, but used religious zeal showing his piety publicly. Taharqa used his religion to try to justify his actions and show that he was just and moral
The comparisons to some of today's leaders showed that while we have made great strides, we still have a long way to go in dismantling the patriarchy.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.