|The Story of Mankind|
|by Hendrik Willem Van Loon|
|Relates the story of western civilization from earliest times through the beginning of the twentieth century, with special emphasis on the people and events that changed the course of history. Portrays in vivid prose the achievements of mankind in the areas of art and discovery, as well as the political forces leading to the modern nation-states. Richly illustrated with drawings by the author. Winner of the first Newbery Award in 1922, The Story of Mankind has introduced generations of children to the pageant of world history. Ages 10-14 |
THE STORY OF EGYPT
THE RISE AND FALL OF EGYPT
 THE river Nile was a kind friend but occasionally it was
a hard taskmaster. It taught the people who lived along its
banks the noble art of "team-work." They depended upon
each other to build their irrigation trenches and keep their
dikes in repair. In this way they learned how to get along
with their neighbours and their mutual-benefit-association quite
easily developed into an organised state.
Then one man grew more powerful than most of his neighbours
and he became the leader of the community and their
commander-in-chief when the envious neighbours of western
Asia invaded the prosperous valley. In due course of time
he became their King and ruled all the land from the Mediterranean
to the mountains of the west.
But these political adventures of the old Pharaohs (the
word meant "the Man who lived in the Big House") rarely
interested the patient and toiling peasant of the grain fields.
Provided he was not obliged to pay more taxes to his King
than he thought just, he accepted the rule of Pharaoh as he
accepted the rule of Mighty Osiris.
It was different however when a foreign invader came
and robbed him of his possessions. After twenty centuries of
independent life, a savage Arab tribe of shepherds, called the
Hyksos, attacked Egypt and for five hundred years they were
the masters of the valley of the Nile. They were highly
un-  popular and great hate was also felt for the Hebrews who
came to the land of Goshen to find a shelter after their long
wandering through the desert and who helped the foreign
usurper by acting as his tax-gatherers and his civil servants.
But shortly after the year 1700 B.C. the people of Thebes
began a revolution and after a long struggle the Hyksos were
driven out of the country and Egypt was free once more.
A thousand years later, when Assyria conquered all of
western Asia, Egypt became part of the empire of Sardanapalus.
In the seventh century B.C. it became once more an
independent state which obeyed the rule of a king who lived in
the city of Sais in the Delta of the Nile. But in the year 525
B.C., Cambyses, the king of the Persians, took possession of
Egypt and in the fourth century B.C., when Persia was conquered
by Alexander the Great, Egypt too became a Macedonian
province. It regained a semblance of independence
when one of Alexander's generals set himself up as king of a
new Egyptian state and founded the dynasty of the Ptolemies,
who resided in the newly built city of Alexandria.
Finally, in the year 39 B.C., the Romans came. The last
Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, tried her best to save the country.
Her beauty and charm were more dangerous to the Roman
generals than half a dozen Egyptian army corps. Twice she
was successful in her attacks upon the hearts of her Roman
conquerors. But in the year 30
B.C., Augustus, the nephew
and heir of Caesar, landed in Alexandria. He did not share
his late uncle's admiration for the lovely princess. He destroyed
her armies, but spared her life that he might make her
march in his triumph as part of the spoils of war. When
Cleopatra heard of this plan, she killed herself by taking poison.
And Egypt became a Roman province.
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