Nina Burleigh is the author of four books. She is a noted journalist whose articles have appeared in Time, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Elle, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.
In 1798, Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt. Attached to the expedition was an elite group of scientists eager to see strange sights and make great discoveries; Mirage is about their adventures. Neither the scientists nor the troops were prepared for the heat, water shortages, disease, or local uprisings. Still, the naturalists, geologists, engineers, and proto-archaeologists managed to collect an amazing amount of data. While focused on the science core, the book contains detailed descriptions of such diverse topics as Napoleon's military maneuvers, rudimentary excavation practices, selection of concubines, and some particularly creative torture techniques. The facts are fascinating, and the text is well written; unfortunately, it also suffers from significant organizational problems. Statements and sometimes whole paragraphs are repeated in different chapters. Keeping track of who did what, where, and when is difficult. And while tortures, for example, are described in nasty detail, actual scientific discoveries (as opposed to collection descriptions) are glossed over. Cassandra Campbell does a fine reading job and seems to enjoy pronouncing the often complicated French names. Despite the organizational issues, this is a satisfying book. Recommended for all but the smallest public and academic libraries.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"Burleigh spotlights the Indiana Jones-esque scientists who joined
Napoleon's Egyptian invasion during the late 18th
"With an easy style and an eye for striking detail, Burleigh concentrates on 151 French scientists, scholars and students who joined the expedition, tempted by hero worship of Napoleon and the prospect of scientific adventure."--Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers