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Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International) Paperback – June 10, 2008
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In 1955, just starting his career as a reporter, Kapuscinski wanted to travel just beyond the border of Poland. His editor sent him on assignment much farther afield, to China, Iran, and Africa, with a gift of Herodotus' Histories. In this amazing memoir, Kapuscinski compares his own wanderings to those of the Greek historian. He wonders about the motivation behind Herodotus' journeys, recounting how his own were spurred by unrest in Poland. Calling Herodotus the "first globalist," Kapuscinski uses his volume as comfort, solace, guide, and inspiration. He intersperses Herodotus' writings throughout his own musings at the modern world, comparing ancient Persia's Darius with the then shah of Iran. As he reads about and dreads the war between the Greeks and Persians, he covers the war in the Congo. Liberated by his travels, Kapuscinski nonetheless feels the impenetrability of the "Great Wall of Language" in China and all the barriers to overcoming xenophobia and nurturing an appreciation for diverse cultures. Kapuscinski's recollections are intimate and vibrant in his embrace of a broader world. Bush, Vanessa --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Luminous. . . . Like Herodotus, Ryszard Kapuscinski was a reporter, a historian, an adventurer and, truly, an artist.” —The Wall Street Journal“Enchanting. . . . Underneath its shimmering prose beats the unquiet heart of a fundamentally decent man and an uncommonly gifted observer. . . . It has a startling clarity and power.” —The New Republic“A work of art: so eloquent, so simple, that you find yourself marveling at its prose….a travel book that all students of writing and of literature ought to read.” —The Washington Post Book World
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I wish every journalist and world traveller would be intelligent enough to react the same way to cultural divides. This humility defines RK as a great reporter and as a decent human being.
He diverted his attention to more accessible places, as far as understanding was concerned.
He travelled 'with Herodotus', but not in the sense of trying to follow his steps. He seems to have carried the Histories with him on most of his trips and he seems to have learned how to investigate, ask questions, listen, report.
The result is a lovely mixture of memoir, travel snippets, and reading experiences summarized from Herodotus. The big question in the book in the book, ie in the Histories, is: why is there the big conflict between East and West? Herodotus is full of allusions, and RK makes full use of them. The Polish translation of the Histories, the edition that RK carried with him, was ready for publication in 51, but no publisher dared bringing it out before 55, for fear of Stalin's censors. After all, are those stories of antique tyrants not possibly meant to be hidden anti-communist propaganda?
RK speculates about the man Herodotus, trying to make deductions about the man from his methods. He criticizes the usual book title: it should not be 'Histories', but 'Investigations'.
Two chapters have special meaning for me:
one is his visit to Algeria during the coup in the mid 60s, when independance hero Ben Bella was deposed by Boumedienne. For RK it was a pivotal time: he began to understand H's way of investigation and began to try and work like him.
For me, the chapter has an illuminating reflection on Islam: RK distinguishes 'desert Islam' from 'sea Islam', ie the fundamentalist version that goes back to the times of the origin in the Arabian peninsula, vs the modernized, open, flexible version that lives on the Mediterranian shores and tries to adjust to times.
Another chapter that rings a chord with me is his visit to the Congo in civil war times, in the footsteps of his great compatriot Korzeniowski.
It was scary in the heart of darkness, and RK found true loneliness fce to face with absolute violent power. Scary.
- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Ryszard Kapuscinski was Polish. He was born in Pinsk which is now Belarus ; but became one of the most famous and honored foreign correspondents. He is now deceased. For forty years, he traveled the globe from Iran to China to El Salvador to India. Like the ancient historian Herodotus, whose book The Histories was carried by Kapuscinski in all of his travels, Ryszard traveled the globe learning about the similarities and the many differences between the cultures of this planet.
Kapuscinski takes us on his journeys and through his eyes we capture his views of the new globalized world. He shows the reader how an ancient man (Herodotus, considered the Father of History) taught him with the work he published almost 2500 years ago to seek understanding first; and then to learn from the various cultures he would come across as a foreign correspondent.
Kapuscinski shares his gifted insights and observations as he remembers his past journeys; this memoir captures the essence of a very sensitive wanderer who wants to talk intimately about his travels and his life.
When Kapuscinski "crossed the border" and was allowed to travel outside of Poland, his world and his vantage point exploded into a vast number of possibilities that he had previously only dreamed about. It is my feeling that with this memoir the author wanted all of us to reach across our boundaries and our self imposed borders so we could experience more of what life has to offer. Maybe he is saying that all of us should not only look around us; but seek the unknown and wander beyond our comfort zone.
The author owed a lot to Herodotus as he traveled and this is as much a tribute to the memory of the ancient Herodotus as to the "memory of Kapuscinski".
"All memory is present."
Travels with Herodotus (Vintage International)
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The first path it Kapuściński's travels.Read more