Book Review:
French Soldier in Egypt, 1798-1801

By Terry Crowdy
Artwork by Christa Hook

 

Napoleon Bonaparteís expedition to Egypt in 1798 opened up the way for Europe to rediscover the wonders of the ancient lands of the Pharaohs.

It was a gruelling time for Bonaparteís troops, who were fighting in a harsh foreign climate, cut off from La Belle France by Admiral Nelsonís destruction of the French fleet at Aboukir Bay and stricken with disease.

In a wonderful eye-opener about life for the soldiers of the Army of Egypt, Terry Crowdy has put together a work that tells us a lot about how the French fared personally during the campaign.

Much of French Soldier in Egypt is taken up with fascinating extracts from diaries or journals that give an I-was-there flavour for the reader and they superbly build on the factual story Crowdy tells.

The eyewitnesses include General Morand (when a colonel), the expedition's First Tailor, Francois Bernoyer, and other interesting observers.

Among the gems are descriptions of the battle of the Nile and the reaction of folk watching the naval action, a soldier telling of his friend's horrific death from bubonic plague and a sick man who survived the French army's poisoning of its own men to save them from torture when captured - only to be nursed back to health by the Turks.

There are also accounts of Bedouin atrocities where they raped French men in front of their comrades and how Egyptian women reacted to European men.

Crowdy has broken the books into key areas of the Egyptian Campaign including Preparations, Farewells, Malta, Aboukir and Marooned.

If that isn't enough then French Soldier in Egypt also gives you more than 40 black-and-white images, many contemporary, eight evocative colour plates and two maps.

This is an excellent addition to the knowledge base of the Napoleonic Era and easily conveys to the reader the various challenges of the Egyptian Campaign.

- Richard Moore

9/10


Osprey Publishing
PO Box 140,
Wellingborough,
Northants,
NN8 2FA,
UK.

 

 
 
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