A gripping and exciting read.
Having noted all this, overall the expedition had been going reasonably well, the one major exception being Nelson's resounding defeat of the French fleet at the Battle Of The Nile (the one aspect of the campaign English readers are likely to be most familiar with). Despite this, Egypt had been successfully occupied and largely pacified, with Desaix's campaign into Upper Egypt, a model of success, forming the fascinating core of several chapters mid-way though this superb book. Napoleon's foes were regularly and soundly beaten, a serious rebellion in Cairo was successfully contained and put down. Certainly the clash of two very different cultures, namely Enlightenment-influenced post-revolutionary France, and the Mameluke ruled primitive conservatism of Islamic Egypt, looked very tricky to resolve. This mismatch remained at all times, barely below the surface, threatening to undo anything the French might achieve very rapidly, as ultimately proved to be the case. Had the French held on to this part of their empire longer, who knows what the global geopolitical outcomes might have been?
One of the many areas Strathern does an admirable job of covering, an area one might expect the more military buff type writer to perhaps gloss over, was the role of the 'savants'. Napoleon was inordinately proud to have been elected a member of the Institute of France. So much so that this part of his official title preceded his military rank during this period. Not only is this interesting in itself but, via a passing reference to how Napoleon was modelling his exploits on those of one of his heroes, Alexander The Great, we also learn that Ancient Greek 'natural philosophy' was closer to modern science in some respects than is often made out. A fascinating example is the savants collecting flora and fauna as they move through territories that are being occupied, sending samples back (to Cairo in this instance), much as Alexander had done in sending back specimens to Aristotle. Fascinating!
 I don't mean to say in using the term myth that these ideas are totally unfounded, merely that in celebrating heroic charisma they are sometimes overstated.
 Strathern comments on what he regards as Napoleon's 'erroneous belief in willpower and ... overweening self-belief', hinting that Napoleon felt himself, as a man of destiny, safe from the contagion of plague. True or not, Bonaparte was both brave and foolhardy to take such a risk.