5:00 p.m. – Reception
6:00 p.m. – Program
7:00 p.m. – Book Signing
Meet the Author – Lynne Olson, Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction
Author Lynne Olson and Steph Hinnershitz, PhD, Senior Historian in the Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy, will discuss Olson’s just-released book about a young woman who helped the French Resistance against the occupying Nazis and then spearheaded one of the most important archaeological preservation efforts in the post-war period.
Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt learned at a young age what “resistance” truly meant. Serving as the youngest Egyptologist in the history of the Louvre, she worked feverishly to spirit priceless pieces out of the museum, right under the noses of the Nazis, so that members of the French Resistance could hide them throughout the country.
In the 1960s, the world’s attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time: an attempt to rescue more than a dozen priceless Egyptian temples from drowning. But the massive press coverage of this remarkable rescue effort—the greatest of its kind in history—completely overlooked one essential element of the story: this gutsy French woman archaeologist who made it happen.
Without the intervention of Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples—including the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur—would now be at the bottom of a gigantic reservoir. A project of almost unthinkable magnitude and complexity, the rescue initially was dismissed as a fool’s errand by virtually everyone. Its enormous engineering challenges were compounded by the towering political difficulties of urging worldwide cooperation during an especially dangerous spike in Cold War tensions.
Desroches-Noblecourt refused to accept that verdict. A willful, real-life version of Indiana Jones, she refused to be cowed by anything or anyone. She’d already had plenty of experience dealing with powerful men who didn’t take her seriously. In the macho, rough-and-tumble world of archaeology, women were an extreme rarity, and she’d been shunned and harassed since her earliest days in the field. “You don’t get anywhere without a fight, you know,” she once told an interviewer. “I never looked for the fight. If I became a brawler, it was out of necessity.”
Throughout her career, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt resembled nothing so much as a female action hero come to life. A woman who swaggered. A woman who talked and fought back. A woman who owned her power.
Pre-order your signed copy of Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Woman Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction by visiting our webstore here.
Lynne Olson is a New York Times best-selling author of nine books of history, most of which focus on World War II. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called her “our era’s foremost chronicler of WWII politics and diplomacy.”
Olson’s new book, Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction, will be published by Random House in early 2023.
Three of her earlier books were immediate New York Times best sellers. The latest was Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler, published in 2019. The others were Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II and Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour.
Born in Hawaii, Olson graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a journalist for 10 years, first with the Associated Press as a national feature writer in New York, a foreign correspondent in AP’s Moscow bureau, and a political reporter in Washington. She left the AP to join the Washington bureau of the Baltimore Sun, where she covered national politics and eventually the White House.
Lynne lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Stanley Cloud, with whom she co-authored two books.