Island of the Blessed: The Secrets of Egypt's Everlasting Oasis


388 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-385-25970-0
DDC 932





Edited by Lynn Coady
Reviewed by Debbie Feisst

Debbie Feisst is the reference/Internet resources librarian in the
Information Services Division of the Edmonton Public Library.


Nova Scotia author Harry Thurston is a poet, playwright, and widely
published freelance journalist. His poetry and articles have appeared in
numerous journals and anthologies.

Island of the Blessed is a meticulously researched history of the
Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt’s western region, the “oldest continuously
inhabited community on the planet.” This ancient community,
painstakingly unearthed by a Canadian-led team of archaeologists, was
once home to a massive body of water teeming with all types of flora and
fauna. Thurston provides a detailed chronological account of the
environmental and societal changes that have occurred there over
millions of years, following them through prehistoric and ancient times
to the present day. Along the way, we learn about the development of
humans, the beginnings of an agrarian society, and the eventual
“drying up” of the region. Thurston draws many relevant parallels to
modern sustainability concerns while issuing timely environmental

Most commendable is the archaeologists’ dedication to their
task—the long, hot days spent labouring to unearth such treasures as
Old Kingdom palaces, mummies, ancient books, and even an entire Roman
city. Most interesting are the methods (it is important to note that
discoveries can be made by sheer intuition) and high-tech systems now
used in modern archaeology, which are fully detailed.

This well-written book won the 2004 Evelyn Richardson Memorial Literary
Award, Nova Scotia’s highest award for a book of non-fiction written
by a Nova Scotian.


Thurston, Harry., “Island of the Blessed: The Secrets of Egypt's Everlasting Oasis,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,