"Green has written a formidable work of popular narrative history describing the tumultuous events that took place in northeastern Africa in the final third of the 19th century. Breathing life into, among many others, the starchy British general Charles Gordon and his fanatical antagonist, the Mahdi, who launched a movement that was a forerunner of today's radical Islamist sects, Green examines an era that witnessed the rise of no fewer than three empires (the Egyptian tyranny of Khedive Ishmail, the apocalyptic "fantasy" of the Mahdi, and the British Empire, which "arrived in a flurry of humanitarian concern, but endured through brutal force"). Cautionary modern parallels of this, the first clash of Arab nationalism, Western intervention and Islamic fervor, are of course never far from breaking the surface, but Green carefully prevents them from becoming overtly apparent. He succeeds in not only untangling the complex politics of the Great Powers as they reacted to the crisis along the Nile but also explaining the equally opaque motivations of the shadowy Mahdi and his followers as they pursued their jihad."(From Publishers Weekly).