This review was originally written 2 years ago and posted on my first blog (which I subsequently forgot about!)
Without further ado, my views on “The Linguist and the Emperor” by Daniel Meyerson:
The book charts the lives of both Napoleon Bonaparte and Jean François Champollion, and also chronicles the discovery and eventual deciphering of the Rosetta Stone – which was the key to translating the Egyptian hieroglyphics. It was extremely interesting, especially the chapters devoted to the life of the incredible linguist, Jean François, but I found it very drawn out.
The book is filled with stories of Napoleon’s soldiers and the politics surrounding his decisions, of his fanaticism for glory and conquest, of his love for Josephine… all of it unnecessary, in my eyes. The book could probably have been half the size and still contained the full details of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, Champollion’s obsession with languages as a child that drove him to want to translate the hieroglyphics, and his final success that placed him forever in the history books.
All in all, it is a fascinating book for history fans but a bit long-winded for anyone whose main interest is the Rosetta Stone itself.