Critical acclaim for Nile biography

Professor Terje Tvedt has studied the River Nile for 30 years. His extensive research reaches its conclusion in an epic book that has been lauded by Norwegian critics.

Fiskere på Nilen. Flere av programpostene dreier seg om elven.
Fiskere på Nilen. Flere av programpostene dreier seg om elven.
Ad Meskens, Wikimedia Commons

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The book “Nilen – historiens elv” (direct translation: “The Nile – the river of history”) by Professor Terje Tvedt at UiB’s Department of Geography has received rave reviews from the critics in his native Norway, who have been positively gushing in their acclaim for the book.

– The good reviews are very pleasing indeed. However, textbook writers know that the true value of a book is determined by whether it contributes to increased knowledge and further research, Terje Tvedt says. – When one writes a book about a subject as classic as the Nile River, one does worry about whether it will stand the test of time.

The battle for the Nile

In his book, Tvedt describes the cradle of mankind and how people migrated from the river’s source and down the Nile basin to populate the planet. Mighty civilisations and empires were created – and vanished – along the river. Today’s river keeps millions of people alive, linking the destinies of one in ten Africans.

And as the uprisings in the Middle East and the Islamist takeover in Egypt recently have shown, the area is still central to world events.

– I wanted to write a book that is respectfully neutral in regard to the 11 countries along the river. This is important as the battle for the Nile possibly is changing more radically than ever before in humanities 5,000-year long history with the river, Tvedt suggests before putting the global role of the Nile in perspective.

– The Nile will continue to flow from the heart of Africa and into the Mediterranean Sea and remain topical for a long time after Norway’s influence in the world has waned. Just like the river made history long before the country of Norway even existed.

His last work

Tvedt believes that a book about the history of the River Nile needs no excuses for its existence.

– The area has been a hotbed for the production of historical and cultural stereotypes – of Africa, of Islam, of European exploration and colonialism – and I wanted to write a book that tries to escape such simplifications, says Tvedt underlining his intentions.

– There is a lot at stake for me with the publication of this book, also on a personal level. This is probably the last book I will write about the Nile and it sums up years of pretty extensive research of a river that’s been close to my heart for 30 years.

(Translation: Sverre Ole Drønen)