The Woman Who Would Be King

The Woman Who Would Be King

Cooney, Kara

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Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in 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.