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In Search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asia to Find the World's First Prophet (Vintage Departures) [Kindle Edition]

Paul Kriwaczek
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $5.11 (30%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Long before the first Hebrew temple, before the birth of Christ or the mission of Muhammad, there lived in Persia a prophet to whom we owe the ideas of a single god, the cosmic struggle between good and evil, and the Apocalypse. His name was Zarathustra, and his teachings eventually held sway from the Indus to the Nile and spread as far as Britain.

Following Zarathustra’s elusive trail back through time and across the Islamic, Christian, and Jewish worlds, Paul Kriwaczek uncovers his legacy at a wedding ceremony in present-day Central Asia, in the Cathar heresy of medieval France, and among the mystery cults of the Roman empire. He explores pre-Muslim Iran and Central Asia, ultimately bringing us face to face with the prophet himself, a teacher whose radical humility shocked and challenged his age, and whose teachings have had an enduring effect on Western thought. The result is a tour de force of travel and historical inquiry by an adventurer in the classic tradition.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“Fascinating. . . . One vacillates between wonder at the story told and admiration at the genial intellectual virtuosity of the storyteller. . . . A delight.” —Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

“Vital. . . . Remarkable. . . . Artfully reveals the Zarathustian hinges of Iranian culture. . . . [It] is written with the prescient elegance of a curious traveler and in the hope that ideas that once changed the world may do so again.” —Boston Review

“Intriguing. . . . Engaging. . . . [A] brisk, smart, remarkably detailed journey.” —The Memphis Commercial Appeal

“A fascinating and neglected subject. . . . [Kriwaczek takes] his readers back to ancient times with imagination and style, moving deftly between the present, the recent past, and the mists of time.” —The Independent



From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Long before the first Hebrew temple, before the birth of Christ or the mission of Muhammad, there lived in Persia a prophet to whom we owe the ideas of a single god, the cosmic struggle between good and evil, and the Apocalypse. His name was Zarathustra, and his teachings eventually held sway from the Indus to the Nile and spread as far as Britain.

Following Zarathustra?s elusive trail back through time and across the Islamic, Christian, and Jewish worlds, Paul Kriwaczek uncovers his legacy at a wedding ceremony in present-day Central Asia, in the Cathar heresy of medieval France, and among the mystery cults of the Roman empire. He explores pre-Muslim Iran and Central Asia, ultimately bringing us face to face with the prophet himself, a teacher whose radical humility shocked and challenged his age, and whose teachings have had an enduring effect on Western thought. The result is a tour de force of travel and historical inquiry by an adventurer in the classic tradition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2155 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBG5U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,442 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Know what it is September 27, 2004
Format:Paperback
This is a lovely little book tracing the influence and mythology of Zarathustra (Zoroaster) through time. Paul Kriwaczek quickly covers Nietzsche, the Cathars, the Manichees, the Roman cult of Mithras, and Zoroastrianism. More accurate and careful books have been written on each of those subjects, but none more enjoyable; and I'm sure this is the only time they have all been dealt with in a single book.

Kriwaczek is an honest layman, enjoying himself as he travels across Central Asia, the Middle East and England, reading the works of scholars (and a novelist) and drawing his own conclusions, exploring the legacy of Zarathustra. He explores some of the most fascinating issues in the history of religion, and he entertains the reader with his description of modern rituals.

This is not scholarly, academic history, and Kriwaczek admits it. But it's also not the kind of ridiculous stuff you find on the History Channel. Kriwaczek's several speculations are within the bounds of plausibility, and he most of the time he admits when he's speculating.

I highly recommend this book because it is so entertaining and fairly accurate. If you wonder why people study ancient religions that no one believes in today, read this and you will know why.

However, if you want to read a book about Zoroastrians, I highly recommend Mary Boyce's "Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices."

Finally, in case you wondered, this is exactly the same book as Kriwaczek's "In Search of Zarathustra: The First Prophet and the Ideas That Changed the World."
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Nietzsche to Zarathustra November 3, 2006
Format:Paperback
The ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster taught that the world was caught in a struggle between good and evil. He believed in one God, called Ahura Mazda, in a struggle with the forces of darkness. He was a theological monist and an ethical dualist. Human beings had the responsibility of working to bring about the good and eliminate the evil. The good would triumph in the end. Zoroaster was one of the first religious teachers to preach the afterlife. He founded a religion called Zoroastrianism which remains one of the fundamental religions of man and, although it has relatively few adherents, it survives today.

Paul Kriwaczek has written a fine book which is travelog, political commentary, history, and study of Zoroastrianism all rolled into one. Mr. Kriwaczek was trained as a dentist but subsequently joined BBC as a specialist in Central and South Asian affairs. It is good to see a nonspecialist who can write on Zoroaster with enthusiasm and knowledge and convey something of both to his readers.

The book is written in the form of a reverse chronology beginning with the present-day and progressing through successive chapters to the hazy early days (perhaps 1800 B.C.) of Zarathustra himself. We see many interesting figures along the way, and Kriwaczek is full of entertaining stories and digressions. This mostly makes the book a pleasure to read, but there are moments when the organization becomes confusing and the story gets a bit off track.

Kriwaczek spends a great deal of time on Frederich Nietzsche and his famous work "Thus Spake Zarathustra." He explains well the sources of Nietzsche's fascination with the ancient Persian prophet and he discusses the advances in scholarship contemporary with Nietzsche that helped make Zoroaster accessible.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Spiritual Ancestor February 5, 2007
Format:Paperback
With the eyes of the news media focused on Iran and its undeniable influence in the Middle East, few have questioned the essential differences between Shiah and Sunni Islam and the history that has led the Shiites to consider Iraq holy ground and Iran the center of a new Islamic civilization. When questions are finally asked, one answer rings clearly: Mesopotamia and Persia are the very cradles of western dynastic civilization, Islamic or otherwise. Few human memories or legends are as old as these places. One tradition in particular echoes throughout the works of scribes and cantors: the faith of Zarathustra, the first messenger of the dominion of one Eternal God.

The downfall of the Shah of Iran and rise of fundamentalist Islam was America's first national experience of Middle Eastern theocratic extremism. The taking of American hostages in 1979 not only placed Shiah Islam in the center of world attention, but also affected American internal politics as it doomed the Carter administration to electoral failure.

Many in the West received a crash course on divisions within Islam as journalists, policy makers, and academics struggled to make sense of this new wrinkle in the rich and varied history of Iran. The many cultures, peoples, languages, and belief systems that have crossed the landscape of ancient Persia and modern Iran have come under intensive scrutiny and careful study in the last quarter century. While travel has been restricted across Iran at various times and for various reasons, scholars, tourists, and pilgrims have had opportunities to explore the rich undercurrents of history and faith that lie beneath the thin, but firm veneer of fundamentalist Shiah Islam.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Lovely.
Published 3 days ago by Cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading from Mr. Kriwaczek
Well done Mr. Kriwaczek. We in America should take heed and understand history through your eyes. Amidst the sea of right wing super white and extreme religious fanaticism that... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Casavista
4.0 out of 5 stars loved most of the book but...
loved most of the book but didn't appreciate the subtle Christian bashing from the author who is Jewish.
Published 8 months ago by linda jam
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good info on a largely forgotten religion
Published 8 months ago by Adi
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Persia and the people of that land!
Go on a journey to Ancient Persia to see how life was and what the main religion was of that land.
What is interesting is how modern Islam and Zoroastrianism cross in modern... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Senor Hammoud
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Quality of book as advertised if not better. It did arrive as per schedule. keep up the good work. G
Published 13 months ago by Michael Froze
4.0 out of 5 stars In search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asai to Find the...
Historically well researched. The connections and interwoven religious thought of the ancients was strongly documented. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jan Carter
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I was hoping for more info about Zoroaster himself, as well as Zoroastrianism. I got about 60 pages into the book and had heard very little about the man or the religion, instead... Read more
Published on January 26, 2013 by S. Bauman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great !
A great journey that helped me learn my origins. And how i got assimilated in Turkey by Islam over the years .
Published on December 16, 2012 by karolkarol
3.0 out of 5 stars Too weak connections
A bit disappointing. Too many digressions. The connections between Zoroastrianism and later currents that MIGHT possibly have been influenced by it are just too weak. Read more
Published on November 25, 2012 by Roar Ljoekjell
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