________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 15 . . . . March 28, 2003


Building the Great Pyramid.

Kevin Jackson & Jonathan Stamp.
Toronto, ON: Firefly Books, 2003.
191 pp., pbk., & cl., $19.95 (pbk.), $29.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55297-719-6 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55297-721-8 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Great Pyramid (Egypt).
Pyramids-Egypt-Design and construction.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Tom Chambers.

**** /4


Building the Great Pyramid tells the story of the construction and purpose of the Great Pyramid of Khufu or Cheops, the Egyptian King who ruled from 2551-2528 BC, at Giza. In the process it explains, as accurately as possible, what life was like in Egypt at the time. It also deals with the great variety of Egyptologists who have sought to learn more about the pyramids for the advancement of knowledge as well as the many quacks and charlatans who have created myths about the Great Pyramid that have no basis in fact.

The Egyptian pyramids have long fascinated much of humanity. The reasons for this fascination are easy to understand. The pyramids are unique and their construction a puzzle it seemed impossible to solve. The Great Pyramid at Giza is the most fascinating of all the pyramids because it is the largest and most complex as well as being the only remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Its construction today, using modern technology, would be a major undertaking. Its construction, some four and a half thousand years ago, with only the simplest of tools, an achievement of monumental proportions. Building the Great Pyramid explains how and why the Egyptians built this marvelous creation.

     Authors Kevin Jackson and Jonathan Stamp have done an excellent job. Jackson, a writer, broadcaster and filmmaker, has written numerous books. Stamp, a television producer, has made several well-received documentaries. Their readable and entertaining text was published to coincide with the BBC Television series, Pyramid, which was shown in Canada in March on the Discovery Channel. Like countless Egyptologists before them, Jackson and Stamp have fallen in love with the Great Pyramid and are enchanted by its story. Their enchantment is infectious. Readers from their mid-teens to adulthood will enjoy their book.

     Up to and including recent times, there were many theories concerning the construction of the Great Pyramid. Some were quite rational while others were farfetched, to say the least. A few of the latter are still popular. Jackson and Stamp go to considerable lengths to debunk the preposterous theories, criticizing the quacks and charlatans with no scientific training, referred to as pyramidiots, who have popularized and perpetuated such theories while praising the serious scientists for their efforts. Their book serves as an excellent introduction to the study of the pyramids.

     Building the Great Pyramid is well illustrated with over 140 coloured and black and white photos. Many are of reconstructions or simulations of what life was like in ancient Egypt. Others are pictures of illustrations found in various pyramids. There are also drawings and photographs of the Egyptologists mentioned in the text. These illustrations, placed throughout the book, enhance its value by making the text more enjoyable. The reader finishes the book with a greater sense of the mystery associated with the Great Pyramid and with an understanding of the fascination it has held, and continues to hold, over people.

     The book also contains an excellent glossary with definitions of the terms mentioned in the text. This feature is invaluable since many of the words and phrases included will be unknown to most readers.

     The useful bibliography of recent works on the pyramids will be welcomed by readers whose appetite for more information on Egyptology has been whetted by this book.

Highly Recommended.

Thomas F. Chambers is a retired college teacher living in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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