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Posted January 18, 2014
Travels with Herodotus is the ninth book published in English by
Travels with Herodotus is the ninth book published in English by award-winning Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski. It is translated by Klara Glowczewska. In the mid 1950’s, as a young journalist, Kapuscinski expressed a desire to go abroad, “Czechoslovakia, maybe?” His editor handed him a copy of The Histories by Herodotus of Halicarnassus and sent him to India. And later China. So begins this memoir, a somewhat disjointed account of Kapuscinski’s own travels through places like Egypt, Libya, Belgian Congo, Iran, Ethiopia, Algiers, Senegal and Turkey; an account which is liberally interspersed with quotes from The Histories, and muses on knowledge lost and memory and the recording of it, on war, conflict, the origins of hostilities, slavery and communication with other people. Perhaps it would be more correct to describe this as a book about Herodotus’s The Histories, punctuated with tenuously related accounts of Kapuscinski’s travels (some detailed, some more superficial). Kapuscinski refers to Herodotus as “my Greek” and is obviously journalistically inspired by him. This book might be enjoyed by readers interested in ancient history and Herodotus; while there are a few interesting parts for the average reader, many will find the bits in between tedious, dry and rather boring. The quotes from The Histories are actually the best parts of this book, so an interested reader might do better to simply read Herodotus’s own work. All in all, a bit of a chore to read.
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