One of the oldest civilizations in the world, Egypt, has a long history of strong rulers, going back thousands of years. And since the days of the pharaohs many centuries ago, Egypt's history includes many accounts of oppression of its people, of rulers who stayed too long, and of an army always prepared to put down rebellion and ruthlessly preserve stability in the country.
Toby Wilkinson is a fellow of Clare College at Cambridge University and a student of ancient Egypt. He has a new book about to be published called "The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt," and he joins us from his home in England.
The Guardian (Tom Holland)
As Toby Wilkinson, in his magisterial new history of ancient Egypt, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt, makes clear, the attitude of the average pharaoh towards dissent would have done credit to Kim Jong-il. "Political propaganda, an ideology of xenophobia, close surveillance of the population, and brutal repression": such, he convincingly demonstrates, were the essential keynotes of the pharaonic state. Even details on royal portraiture that might, at first sight, appear to be the work of some ancient Steve Bell are revealed, on closer inspection, to be the precise opposite. The Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret III is shown with large ears, for instance, not because he looked like Prince Charles, but because he was imagined as listening to everything that his subjects said.
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt