Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Road with The Histories

Travels With Herodotus; Ryszard Kapuscinski (Vintage; 2007; ISBN 978-1-4000-7878-3; cover by Raghu Rai).

Ryszard Kapuscinski was a Polish journalist who fell in love with one of the world's first history books, The Histories by Herodotus (good overview of the book here; electronic versions here, here and here). This collection (sometimes this feels like a group of essays strung together, sometimes it feels like an integrated work...I'm treating it as a collection, hey, it's my blog...)

The book alternates between Kapuscinski's sometime bizarre travels to China, India, Iran, Egypt and other points around the globe and his examinations of the one book that traveled most with him: The Histories. Sometimes the book illuminates his travels or vice versa; often he finds more drama and interest in the book than the places he visits. Some amusing stuff, some moving stuff, and a lot of very good stuff.

Made up of: Crossing the Border; Condemned to India; The Train Station and the Palace; Rabi Sings the Upanishads; Chairman Mao's One Hundred Flowers; Chinese Thought; Memory Along the Roadways of the World; The Happiness and Unhappiness of Croesus; The Battle's End; On the Origin of the Gods; The View from the Minaret; Armstrong's Concert; The Face of Zopyrus; The Hare; Among Dead Kings and Forgotten Gods; Honors for the Head of Histieus; At Doctor Ranke's; The Greek's Technique; Before He Is Torn Apart by Dogs and Birds; Xerxes; The Oath of Athens; Time Vanishes; The Desert and the Sea; The Anchor; Black Is Beautiful; Scenes of Passion and Prudence; Herodotus's Discovery; We Stand in Darkness Surrounded by Light.

Part of the 2008 Year in Shorts.

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