Although this started out as a bit of a slow read, “Valley of the Kings” picked up steam after the first couple of chapters, and wound up being quite an interesting book. It’s written sort of as a dual history; on the one hand it’s about the ancients who made these famous tombs, and on the other, it’s a detailed history of the archaeology of the area through the ages.
Romer primarily covers the history of the tombs’ excavations from Napoleon’s time through Howard Carter’s discover of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. The former period I found a bit long-winded, covering Napoleon’s expeditions and the publication of the Description de l’Egypte, ou Recueil des Observations et des Recherches qui ont e’te’ faites en E’gypte’, publie’ par les ordres de sa Majeste’ l”empereur Napoleon le Grand `a Paris de l’Imprimerie Imperiale (if that is not the grandest book title I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is!), which really sparked Egyptology and the European fascination with all things Egyptian.
The remainder I found fascinating, although it’s not by any means a quick read, chock-full of names, dates and places. Particularly interesting to me was the way in which foreign governments directed the excavations in the Valley, and the petty ways in which politics interefered with things.
There are a handful of drawings of the tombs’ plans, and a short section of B&W photographs in the middle, but it’s otherwise 350 pages of pretty dense text. I though it provided an interesting and unusual perspective on this oft-written-about topic, but probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already have an interest in Egypt (it’d be great to read before actually visiting the Valley of the Kings for sure, although alas, I don’t think that is in my near future).