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Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-Francois Champollion Hardcover – Apr 26 2012

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An English biography of Champollion, for amateurs and professionals July 6 2012
By Tiffany - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Egyptophiles casual and professional need look no further than Andrew Robinson's 2012 work for a critical biography of Jean-Francois Champollion. Indeed, if "Cracking the Egyptian Code" is to be believed, there *is* no other biography of Champollion available in English. Fortunately, Robinson's latest book is well written, intelligent, and scholarly without ponderous pages of academic footnotes. The title is a bit of a misnomer, since Robinson examines Champollion's entire life, from his upbringing in post-Revolution provincial France, through his academic and personal struggles in Grenoble and Paris (Fourier! Napoleon! Various kings!) as well as his sojourn in Egypt, up until Champollion's untimely death at the age of 40. Robinson provides a historical perspective on the "race" between Champollion and the polymath Thomas Young, and he does an admirable job of separating historical fact from interpretation - critical, since Champollion failed to annotate the process by which he determined his hieroglyphic system. "Cracking the Egyptian Code" contains nearly 100 drawing and photographs of people, places, and objects; personally, I would have preferred to see more Egyptian artifacts and fewer paintings of dead French nobles. The book's final chapter, "The Hieroglyphs After Champollion," gives a quick peek into the complexity of the currently accepted hieroglyphic system without taxing the reader's remaining stamina. Overall, Robinson allows his genuine admiration of Champollion's "self-confidence, his fanaticism for a single cause, his courage, his sense of humor, and his joie de vivre" to buoy the reader without resorting to mindless hagiography. "Cracking the Egyptian Code" will doubtless become mandatory reading for English-oriented students of Egyptology, particularly for armchair archaeologists.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Say yes to hieroglyphics and Champollion Aug. 11 2012
By see above - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an engrossing story--and so interestingly told! The author follows the mystery of hieroglyphics from its beginning in Egypt through its relatively early descent into historical oblivion in Roman times and on into the brave but fruitless attempts of medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment scholars to unravel their meaning. Enter Champollion whose brilliant deductions and linking of the symbols to the ancient Coptic script and language finally opened the door through which other scholars rushed to complete the job after his untimely death. For lovers of biography, history and code breaking, this book will hold the reader's attention--no, won't allow him/her to even put it down. The superb illustrations also add to the enjoyment and comprehension of both the story and the puzzle's solution. Get it!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
History Jan. 28 2013
By Linda Hutchins - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting subject told through the life of a lesser known person. Beautiful book. I you like history, you will love this.