Book Review: Thutmose III: The Military Biography of Egypt's Greatest Warrior King


by Richard A. Gabriel

Washington: Potomac Books, 2009. Pp. ix, 324 . Illus, maps, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN:1597973734

The First "Great Captain"?

Largely due to his extensive propaganda, most historians cite the megalomaniacal Ramses II as Egypt' s "greatest" warrior king.  But a better case can be made for Thutmose III, who ruled more than a century earlier. And Prof. Gabriel (Royal Military College of Canada), author of quite a number of works on ancient warfare, makes that case very convincingly. 

Gabriel opens with a short, but concise introduction to Egyptian history to set Thutmose's life and campaigns within the framework of the political, economic, diplomatic, and, of course, military practice of his times.  He then goes on to look at Thutmose's career, beginning with his long years as ward of "Pharaoh" Hatshepsut, with whom, Gabriel suggests, the young man may not have been on as bad terms as traditionally thought, and into his early years as co-ruler.  With this, Gabriel begins to examine Thutmose's military career, looking at the teenage king's early campaigns, his accession to sole rule, and the institutional changes he brought to Egyptian society. There follows a well written look at Thutmose's score or so of often spectacular military campaigns into Asia, reaching as far as the Euphrates

Wringing the maximum value from often sparse sources, Gabriel also draws evidence from better know events in the same era, and applies the lessons of later military experience as appropriate (e.g., troops still march at the same rate they did back then, etc.). In this way Gabriel gives us a valuable account of the life and campaigns of one of the first great captains. 

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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