The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney

The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara CooneyRating: 3 / 5 stars
Format: ebook
Published: 14th October 2014
Book Depository | Goodreads

Hatshepsut was born into a privileged position in the royal household, and she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimise the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her improbable rule as a cross-dressing king.

Hatshepsut successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her monuments were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her unprecedented rule. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

This book is fascinating but it is also extremely frustrating. The author concedes that we do not have much information about Hatshepust. We know very little about her personality, her political manoeuvring and her relationships with her father, Thutmose I, her brother and husband, Thutmose II, and her nephew and co-regent, Thutmose III. The author makes liberal use of words like “perhaps” and “maybe”, she poses numerous questions asking what Hatshepust might have thought or how she felt. But of course we can’t know the answers to these questions as the records simply do not exist. So the author makes assumptions of what the thoughts and feelings of Hatshepsut may have been.

I think it is important to learn about Hatshepsut. As the author puts it:

The challenges Hatshepsut faced and the sacrifices she made are familiar to powerful women of the twenty-first century: balancing the personal and the political, overcoming stereotypes of hysterical and unbalanced femininity, and making compromises never asked of powerful men. For Hatshepsut, her unprecedented success was rewarded with a short memory, while the failures of other female leaders from antiquity will be forever immortalised in our cultural consciousness.

However with all the speculation and guessing in this book I can’t help but feel there may be a better way of learning about Hatshepsut.

Buy The Woman Who Would Be King on Book Depository

Thanks for reading.
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*I received a copy of this book from Crown Publishing in exchange for a honest review.

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13 thoughts on “The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney

    • Ooooh okay what I would do is go to your local book store. Have a wander around, and I mean the entire store. Not just the section you would normally buy books from. Find something that looks interesting. Read the back of the book, read the first chapter. Take your time. Talk to the people working in the bookstore. Normally they are really good for giving recommendations. Find something you really want to read. Buy it from the bookstore. Don’t just find something then order it from Amazon. I know its more expensive but the feeling you get from spending time looking for a book and finding the perfect one will make you want to read it even more.

  1. Hatshepsut flipped the script. I like that. It’s a shame that folks felt so threatened by her that they tried to obliterate her name and history from the record books after her death. If they’d had any sense, they would have seen that she was trying to show them what could be, and we’d be able to read a lot more about her today. *sigh* Thanks for the review! 🙂

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