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The Way of Herodotus: Travels with the Man Who Invented History Hardcover – December 9, 2008

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Hardcover, December 9, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Marozzi notes that Herodotus was the first historian, travel writer, anthropologist, political theorist, foreign correspondent, and prose stylist. During the classical age of the fifth century BC, Herodotus wrote the first history text, known as the Histories. Marozzi calls it a masterpiece on the grandest scale, a chronological history of the Persian wars. Marozzi examines Herodotus’ 2,500-year observations about the cultures and places he visited. The author sees Herodotus as “an aspiring geographer, a budding moralist, a skillful dramatist, a high-spirited explorer, and an inveterate storyteller; part learned scholar, part tabloid hack, but always broad-minded.” Marozzi’s research included more than 100 books and articles. The result is an imposing and remarkable travel history. --George Cohen


Kirkus, 12/1/08
“A digressive, witty blend of travel writing and popular history…Marozzi does not shy away from bold statements or prurient details…Clever.”

Booklist, 1/1/09
"An imposing and remarkable travel history."

Shelf Awareness, 1/13/09
“[A] marvelous mix of history and travel writing. Marozzi is a passionate advocate for reading Herodotus…Wit, adventure, history—it’s all here in a compulsively readable book.”

New York Press, 1/13/09
“This isn’t just a dusty look at history.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/4/09
“Travels with [a] dead historian [are] more fun than you’d expect…An enjoyable, highly readable book, and its digressive, loose structure and high entertainment quotient make it a pleasant descendant of Herodotus’ writings.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 1/14/09
“Marozzi offers a splendid portrait.”

Washington Post, 1/29/09
“[Marozzi is] 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.”

Washington Times, 2/1/09
“Marozzi has penned something of a classic, taking on the ancient world through modern eyes and bringing fresh impressions to such familiar, even cliche, places… It's a big plus, too, to find such a book of such quality illustrated with handsome black and white photographs worthy of the text. Mr. Marozzi obviously knows his Herodotus and knows how to give his observations impact. There is much here to digest and ponder.”

Buffalo News , 2/1/09

New York Times Book Review, 2/22/09
“Sometimes the trip that starts out on the wrong foot can prove to be the most rewarding….Such is the case in tagging along with the travel writer Justin Marozzi in The Way of Herodotus…A stellar digression.”

National Geographic Adventure, 3/09
“A delightful scrawl…A terrific time…Marozzi’s book is an excellent introduction to [Herodotus] and is great fun in its own right.”

Baton Rouge Advocate, 1/25/09
“Provocative…[A] rip-roaring new book…Marozzi writes in the same way that he travels: with British wit and a bouncy step.”, 3/4/09
“Splendid new travel book."

Raleigh News and Observer, 3/8/09
“Open-hearted and deft, Marozzi does for us what Herodotus does for him: provides an introduction to places new to us. More like a generous dinner host, he makes sure to seat us next to someone truly fascinating. Marozzi uses his own trip to bring us to Herodotus, whom he's sure we'll like. Of course we do.”

Lovin’ Life After 50, March 2009
“[A] unique, compelling book.”

Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/27/09
“Enticing, evocative.”

Shepherd Express, 4/20/09
“Marozzi is always lucid and enjoyable.”, 5/11/09
“A droll and enlightening look at Herodotus…This is as much a travel book as a history book and enjoyable in that sense alone…The Way of Herodotus may be most compelling as it explores just how little we may have changed in the last 2500 years and at least one effort to bring about change.”

The Explorers Journal, Summer 2009
“Marozzi sprinkles his narrative with historical sidebars, witty often off-color stories, and wonderful discoveries and observations of the rich and varied part of our world.”

The Washington Post’s “Best Books of 2009” list, 12/13/2009
“The writer of this excellent travel book is skilled at evoking character, and his descriptions sparkle.”


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (December 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306816210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306816215
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,790,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Author Justin Marozzi gives readers a fresh look at "The Father of History", Herodotus.
W. H. McDonald Jr.
I think the connections the author tried to make between modern day and Herodotus' own time were a little weak.
V. Stewart
It was an obligation and I treated it as such; never much enjoying it but slogging through as best I could.
Roger D. Launius

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I studied history in graduate school we all had to read Herodotus. It was an obligation and I treated it as such; never much enjoying it but slogging through as best I could. I enjoyed the "father of history's" discussion of the Persian wars, but the travelogue Herodotus provided as an aside to his main story was a distraction for me. Had it been available then, I could have benefited from Justin Marozzi's book, "The Way of Herodotus." In this work Marozzi travels the same path that Herodotus took 2,500 years earlier. It took him to Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Greece to visit many of the same places that Herodotus wrote about. By far he spends the majority of the volume, more than 100 pages, discussing Greece. In every case he visits local sites, contacts a large number of people with varying perspectives on the region, the past, or Herodotus. Everywhere, Marozzi finds remnants of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures that Herodotus perceived.

From my perspective the most interesting part of the book was when Marozzi encountered Nenad Sebek, director of the Centre for Democracy and Reconciliation in South-east Europe, in Thessalonki. He describes the Centre's Joint History Project to produce history textbooks for the Balkans. That yielded a fascinating set of discoveries. The first study undertaken by the Centre, "Clio in the Balkans," found that "the rewriting of history in Yugoslavia since 1989 has seen the suppression of those themes and forces that once unified its peoples and a fresh emphasis on those that divide them. Conflicts between them in the present are presented as unchanging throughout the past so that wars and separation are inevitable, what Christina Koulouri, series editor of the new textbooks, calls the `logic of dissolution'" (p. 250).
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rob Weiner on May 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Marozzi's 'The Way of Herodotus' is an interesting read. He follows the ancient historian's path across Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Greece. There is interesting information scattered throughout the book, some of it coming directly out of 'The Histories.' However, the author is very repetitive -- he continually restates how culturally sensitive Herodotus was. Sure, it's true, but is restated too much. Additionally, this book carries a strong anti-American bias, highlighted particularly in the chapters about Iraq. Often times, the author draws vague connections between people he meets and Herodotus (eg, this guy is like Herodotus because he is an adventurous spirit and Herodotus would have liked this guy.) Additionally, the author continually stresses sex and his opinion that Herodotus was obsessed with sex. I think the only one obsessed is Marozzi. Overall, I enjoyed the information and stories that came directly from 'The Histories,' however Marozzi's focus is often off-track.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By V. Stewart on October 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I checked this book out from the local library (thank goodness I did not purchase it), I was expecting a travel book of sorts with a historical twist, which it is. The premise of the book is the author traveling to the all of the lands that Herodotus wrote about in his "Histories." It sounds interesting enough. However, as other reviewers have noted, the author seems more interested in the sexual practices Herodotus wrote about in his travels than anything else. Titillating to be sure, but not all that intriguing. A little goes a long way in the case of such information, and I wish the author had taken note of that. While some of the descriptions of the present day lands were interesting, particularly the first chapter, the book lost its way a little with the Babylon/Modern day Iraq portion. It seemed to become a critique of Bush's decision to go to war, which, albeit controversial, seemed out of place after the first chapter. I think the connections the author tried to make between modern day and Herodotus' own time were a little weak. Too much of the author writing about how understanding and multicultural Herodotus was and how Herodotus would have liked this or that. I wish there had been more a connection between his own travels and Herodotus', rather than just going to the same places. It is more travel book than history, and not a very good one at that.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roger L. Johnson on October 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Justin Marozzi attempts to follow the ancient historian Herodotus in his travels. He takes Herodotus as a travelling companion, or correctly Herodotus takes Marozzi as a travelling companion. Marozzi with typically English self-effacing humor gives a short history of his educational pursuits. This ties all of us to the man himself. One only need make his way into the book shortly to realize that once Marozzi had set his mind to a course of study he learned well. He is a wordsmith. He sent me scurrying numerous times to my dictionary in search of meanings not clear from the context. I appreciate a man who can execute his craft well and Marozzi is a admirably competent at his. The book is worth the read if for nothing else than to see words well used and well written. He is exquisite in literary form.

Marozzi gives us a short history of the Persian wars, an excellent overview to begin with. He whets our appetite for a journey back in time with Herodotus.

Marozzi engages us in the travels of Herodotus in a way that the ancient and the contemporary, the past and the present are almost brought together as one. We see how many things have changed and yet how they have stayed the same.

Our peripatetic historian begins to take shape in this book as a present day Herodotus. He writes very much in the same way as Herodotus in that he engages the local folk to help him with his excursions Every would-be traveler wants to have access to these kinds of places known only to the locals but many times do not have the ability to find them or gain access to them.

Herodotus wrote with openness to the world at his disposal. Marozzi does the same. Hereodotus recounts stories of far away places and their various unusual practices. Marozzi does the same.
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