The Way of Herodotus: Travels with the Man Who Invented History

The Way of Herodotus: Travels with the Man Who Invented History

by Justin Marozzi

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An intriguing travel history exploring and evoking the world of Herodotus, with abundant commentary on the legacy and spirit of the "father of history” and the literary art he created.

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An intriguing travel history exploring and evoking the world of Herodotus, with abundant commentary on the legacy and spirit of the "father of history” and the literary art he created.

Editorial Reviews

Michael Sims
[Marozzi's] excellent at evoking character and scene…His descriptions sparkle…His assessments of current political and religious battles read as spontaneous but well-informed. Marozzi seems worthy of his illustrious model, as he travels with the ghost of the father of history.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
British historian Cesarani, who won a National Jewish Book Award for Becoming Eichmann, investigates a murder, coverup and ensuing scandal in 1947 Palestine that, he says, ultimately cost Britain its mandate over Palestine. Receiving intelligence that radical Jewish resistance forces were planning an assassination on British soil, Whitehall approved a security crackdown involving special squads intended to provoke violence and snatch suspects. In May 1947, one squad, headed by Maj. Roy Farran, came upon 16-year-old Alexander Rubowitz reportedly putting up Jewish underground posters in Jerusalem, and abducted, tortured and killed him during an interrogation. Farran fled to Syria, but returned to face court-martial; his acquittal provoked criticism in the Jewish press and skepticism around the world, but in Britain he received a hero's welcome. In 1948, Farran's brother was killed by a letter bomb apparently intended for Roy; the Jewish underground took responsibility. Utilizing a variety of sources that have only recently become available, Cesarani reveals the surprising existence of Jewish terrorist networks in Europe while offering a masterful and persuasive account of an ugly episode in British colonial history. 8 pages of b&w photos; maps. (Sept.)
Library Journal

Herodotus is a somewhat controversial figure, dubbed both the "Father of History" and the "Father of Lies" for his famous Histories, which explored the causes of the Greek and Persian wars while often digressing into cultural notes, examinations of politics, and local legends. Marozzi (Tamerlane) makes no secret of his admiration for the man, and in this vivid travelog he lets Herodotus's spirit be companion and guide. Marozzi traces Herodotus's footsteps as he sought out knowledgeable people for their observations through what is now Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq. Though times have changed, there's plenty of evidence in Marozzi's explorations and encounters to suggest that the overall messages in Herodotus's work-the hubris of man, the strangeness and power of culture, and the importance of historical records-are just as applicable to the world today. While his imagined version of Herodotus's personality sometimes seems a bit of a stretch, Marozzi succeeds admirably at emulating the tone of the work he so admires, producing a lively and accessible narrative that's often as eclectic as its spiritual predecessor. Recommended for public libraries, especially those with travel history collections or as a companion to Ryszard Kapuscinski's Travels with Herodotus.
—Kathleen McCallister

Kirkus Reviews
A digressive, witty blend of travel writing and popular history. When your subject is a classical author and his account of a war that ended some 2,500 years ago, it takes a good deal of enthusiasm and a keen sense of storytelling to keep a reader interested as you follow in his footsteps. Recounting his passionate pursuit of Herodotus and the modern vestiges of ancient Greco-Persian geography, journalist Marozzi (Tamerlane, 2007, etc.) does not shy away from bold statements or prurient details. He casts Herodotus as the world's first historian, first foreign correspondent, first anthropologist, first travel writer and first investigative journalist, as well as the man who "invented the West." Traveling along the great historian's route, Marozzi encountered evidence of a good deal of fellatio, sodomy, sacred prostitution, necrophilia, bestiality and phallic worship-most of it, thankfully, at a historical distance. The sex is rarely very sexy, however, and Marozzi's deft handling of history's strange congruities and incongruities is far more interesting. In Turkey, he tracked Herodotus to his hometown in Halicarnassus (now Bodrum); he describes the excavation of the town's Mausoleum (one of the seven wonders of the classical world) and the archaeological exploration of an ancient shipwreck that contained the world's oldest book. In 2004, he made a harrowing entry into Baghdad and a visit to the ancient site of Babylon, now "Camp Babylon" and under military control. Moving on to Egypt, Marozzi evokes Cairo in a lush, epic catalogue that is characteristic of his sly engagement with the kind of historical reporting Herodotus invented. In Greece, Marozzi's attention flitted from the wine ofSamos to an enviable lunchtime sojourn at the table of one of the last century's great travel writers, Patrick Leigh Fermor. "History rumbles on like an insatiable omnivore, devouring everything before it," writes Marozzi. It's a good thumbnail description of the approach that gives his clever, occasionally oversexed travel narrative much of its charm. Agent: Georgina Capel/Capel & Land
From the Publisher
Chicago Tribune, 7/17/11
“You must not miss this guide to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, which brims with descriptions that transcend ephemeral tidbits such as who’s running the government. Marozzi comments often upon the timeless appeal of an earlier writer—that rascal of a historian, Herodotus—and by so doing, creates his own eternally appealing travel guide.”

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Product Details

Da Capo Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

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