|JOHN MURRAY PUBLISHERS|
the observer Sat 22 August 2009
According to Justin Marozzi, Herodotus was not just the world's first historian, but also its first social historian, journalist and travel writer. In an attempt to rehabilitate Herodotus's reputation as the true father of history and not simply as the "Father of Lies", Marozzi journeys to Halicarnassus, now Bodrum, Herodotus's home town, and then follows The Histories to Iraq, where he goes via military convoy to see what little still remains of Babylon. His travels take him to the remote Siwa oasis in Egypt and, inevitably, to Greece, where he quaffs retsina with travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Marozzi has an easy, readable style, though his tone can be irritatingly casual. But he does connect the ancient and modern worlds in an entertaining way. NT
the guardian Fri 21 August 2009
Historians tend to be a bit snooty about Herodotus, because he hammed it up to keep his audience entertained with tales of dog-headed men, gold-digging ants and flying snakes. Cicero dubbed him the "father of history", for which historians ought to be grateful, says Justin Marozzi, even if Plutarch later called him the "father of lies". What Marozzi most admires about Herodotus is his "life-grabbing energy", which he shares. On his travels through Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Greece clutching his copy of the Histories, his enthusiasm is everywhere apparent. He even occasionally cries "Eureka!" - once when the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor invites him to lunch at Kardamyli, and again when he finally tracks down his lost notebook at the feet of a statue of Pythagoras. We never really learn from history, says Marozzi, although in Iraq he observes how one of Herodotus's favourite literary devices is the wise adviser, popping up regularly to counsel against war ("Haste is the mother of failure", etc). Every leader needs one.