The Woman Who Would Be King

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Early Civilization

The Woman Who Would Be King:
Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt

Author: Cooney, Kara
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Time Period: Early Civilization
Time Frame: 1508-1458 BCE
Geographic Area: Africa
Country: Ancient Egypt
Topics: Hatshepsut
Genre: Non-Fiction
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2014

World History > Early Civilization > Ancient Egypt

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power.

Hatshepsut—the daughter of a general who usurped Egypt's throne—was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir, however, paved the way for her improbable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just over twenty, Hatshepsut out-maneuvered the mother of Thutmose III, the infant king, for a seat on the throne, and ascended to the rank of pharaoh.

Shrewdly operating the levers of power to emerge as Egypt's second female pharaoh, Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays in the veil of piety and sexual reinvention. She 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.

Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

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