Shop now Shop now</arg> Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
31
4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£9.98+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

VINE VOICEon 13 July 2007
Ryszard Kapinscinski was made Poland's journalist of the century in 1999 and judging by his writing must have been truly deserved. He wrote thrillingly of his travels as a foreign correspondant in the worlds toughest countries. Sadly 'Travels' is his final book due to his death in January this year.

Having recently read Shadow of the Sun I was eager to seek out more of his writing and was therefore delighted that this publication from 2004 has been translated. It does not disappoint.

This non fiction book covers three areas. His youth in post war Poland, his travels as a reporter for PAP in the 50s and early 60s and through out the book it is bulked up by his musings on the travels of the 3rd Century BC Greek Herodotus. All of this make fascinating and gripping reading.

RK always writes with humility and understanding of the hardship and bleak poverty he encounters. His empathy clearly stems from his childhood in Poland and he relates a moving story about himself at 10 years old with no shoes trying to fund a new pair for the cold winter by selling green home made soap door to door with very little luck. His stoicism in these harsh circumstances must have helped to give him his unique and intrepid personality. He goes forth with a sort of naive bravado setting foot in countries where there is civil war, disease and unbearable climate and in the begining at least unable to speak any language but Polish and Russian.

The stories of Herodotus are interspersed thorughout and are not always obviously relevant. Nevertheless it has made me want to read more about the Greek and I will be seeking a copy soon.

RK has perfected a simplicity of writing which is always interesting. He give the reader gold nuggets of information and insights into other worlds. His slightly gullible nature often leads to near misses including a close shave after being lured to the top of a ramshackle disused minaret in Egypt by a dodgy character.

This is a lovely final work by a great journalist.

From his thought of Herodotus - 'His most important discovery and that one must learn about them, because these other worlds, these other cultures are mirrors in which we can see ourselves. Thanks to which we understand ourselves better - for we cannot define our own identity until having confronted that of others as comparison'.
0Comment| 42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 June 2007
If you have read any other of his travel books, this one is different. It's almost as if he knew it would be his last, and in it he reflects on his travels, and the reasons people travel, in a developing dialogue with a writer who could be described as the world's first travel writer, Herodotus. What comes through the book very strongly is Kapuscinski's humanity, and his genuine curiosity about the places and the people he comes across - and this aspect does link with all his other writing. There is clearly a serious level of allegory in what he writes, as one might expect from a writer who developed and wrote under the shadow of Eastern European regimes. It's worth the reading and thinking time - and he has made me want to go off and read Herodotus for myself. In a world which is riven with strife and warfare, his plea for openness to the other and curiosity about that which is different, rather than the rejection and destruction of it, is his most important message for me.
0Comment| 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 August 2007
This is an unusual book, a memoir of an extraordinary life on the cusp of world events, interwoven with the fabric of Herodotus's Histories, a book given to the author early in his journalistic career. Kapuscinski has provided some of the most perceptive observations on the history of the second half of the 20th century and this beautifully written document provides us with an insight into his development from a young naive reporter in Poland to the alert instinctive scribe of his international reporting career. It seems that Herodotus, his constant companion, played a formative role in this progression. Herodotus's Histories are written in an intriguing style in which many interleaving strands come to their natural conclusions at the end of each section and in which no seemingly insignificant detail is too slight to mention. Kapuscinski in some ways follows this stylistic approach with what appear frequently to be digressions from the main text demonstrating their profundity as you conclude the chapter. The descriptions of ordinary and extraordinary events in Kapuscinski's life, Louis Armstrongs's concert in Khartoum, being fleeced by a secret policeman in Cairo and his arrival at the epicentre of a coup in Algiers reflect the humanity of the writer at the centre of frequently appaling events. However, the perspective of Herodotus in placing man's inhumanity in context is never far away from the centre of the narrative. Several themes predominate in his musings on the Histories. Firstly, the inability of great leaders to take good advice as frequently reflected in adverse decisions made by Persian emporors Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes in their attempts at world domination. Secondly, random events of outrageous cruelty perhaps best exemplified by the mutilation of Xerxes sister in law by his jealous wife and by Xerxes's subsequent killing of his brother and his family. Thirdly, the seemingly random events on which the course of history depends - a hare darts out as the Scythian warriors prepare to defend their land from the Persians; the Scythians ignore the Persian army to chase the hare, spooking the Persians completely, so that they retreat. The requirement for slaves in the creation of this ancient world would of course have resonance for the writer of Imperium, which details at an early stage the forced deportations of so-called dissidents including his former school teacher from Poland. As this is Kapuscinski's last work, it is tempting to speculate that perhaps the unstated message is that nothing has changed since The Histories and that he is subliminally tieing a thread between recent events in the world and the events detailed by Herodotus. This is a wonderful book, at one level deceptively easy to read but ultimately profoundly stimulating, provocative and immensely human, a cultural mirror in which much of the modern world is reflected.
0Comment| 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 6 June 2008
Ryszard Kapinscinski was made Poland's journalist of the century in 1999 and judging by his writing must have been truly deserved. He wrote thrillingly of his travels as a foreign correspondant in the worlds toughest countries. Sadly 'Travels' is his final book due to his death in January this year.

Having recently read Shadow of the Sun I was eager to seek out more of his writing and was therefore delighted that this publication from 2004 has been translated. It does not disappoint.

This non fiction book covers three areas. His youth in post war Poland, his travels as a reporter for PAP in the 50s and early 60s and through out the book it is bulked up by his musings on the travels of the 3rd Century BC Greek Herodotus. All of this make fascinating and gripping reading.

RK always writes with humility and understanding of the hardship and bleak poverty he encounters. His empathy clearly stems from his childhood in Poland and he relates a moving story about himself at 10 years old with no shoes trying to fund a new pair for the cold winter by selling green home made soap door to door with very little luck. His stoicism in these harsh circumstances must have helped to give him his unique and intrepid personality. He goes forth with a sort of naive bravado setting foot in countries where there is civil war, disease and unbearable climate and in the begining at least unable to speak any language but Polish and Russian.

The stories of Herodotus are interspersed thorughout and are not always obviously relevant. Nevertheless it has made me want to read more about the Greek and I will be seeking a copy soon.

RK has perfected a simplicity of writing which is always interesting. He give the reader gold nuggets of information and insights into other worlds. His slightly gullible nature often leads to near misses including a close shave after being lured to the top of a ramshackle disused minaret in Egypt by a dodgy character.

This is a lovely final work by a great journalist.

From his thought of Herodotus - 'His most important discovery and that one must learn about them, because these other worlds, these other cultures are mirrors in which we can see ourselves. Thanks to which we understand ourselves better - for we cannot define our own identity until having confronted that of others as comparison'.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 February 2010
This book is a combination of reflection on Herodotus and his travels, and a life spent travelling the world in the modern age. I learned a lot about Herodotus and Kapuscinski writs so beautifully you could eat his prose for dinner. The book covers a massive geographical scope and huge historical one too. The author is incredibly well informed about all of it.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 January 2011
Ryszard Kapusciñski's master companion in these hallucinating journeys is the book `The Histories' by the ancient Greek writer Herodotus. RK digs out his master's method of inquiry, the laws of history he discovered, his vision on mankind and his ultimate all important message. Through his own investigations in the Congo, China or India, RK meditates profoundly on war and the absence of ethics, the real creators of riches, the all importance of Africa in man's history and the (es)sence of writing.

Herodotus (method, aim, laws, vision)
Herodotus collected as many credible facts as possible through direct contact with people, like eyewitnesses, in order to portray how history is created. His aim was to prevent that the traces of human events be erased by time.
He discovered the essential multiplicity of the world and certain historic laws. First, the one who started something evil is always responsible and must be punished. Secondly, don't humiliate people, because they will thereafter subsist on dreams of revenge. In a nutshell: crime and punishment, injustice and revenge.
In conflicts, he discovered the force of guerrilla war (Darius against the Scythians).
Herodotus was a secular writer: `Is man as a consequence of his flaws unable to shape his own destiny?' His vision on man is fatalistic: man has no free will. The King of Kings (Xerxes) is but a pawn in the hands of destiny; `then, what about me, an ordinary man, a mote of dust?'

Ryszard Kapusciñski (Africa, slavery, war, order)
For RK, `Africa's contribution to world history has been immense. By furnishing the New World its labor force, it enabled it to amass enough wealth and power to surpass the Old World. Later, the depopulated and exhausted continent fell easy prey to European colonizers.
`The treasures and riches of the world were created from time immemorial by slaves.'
In Congo, one could see clearly how dangerous freedom is in the absence of hierarchy and order, of ethics. The forces of evil instantly gain the upper hand.'

The `danger' and (es)sence of writing (Herodotus, Ryszard Kapuaeciñski)
Herodotus was a master of allusion. Each word could have a double meaning, a hidden significance, cunningly concealed.
All importantly, `the man who wrote had difficulty communicating with the man who read, not only because the censor could confiscate the text en route, but also because, when the text finally reached him, the latter read something utterly different from what was clearly written.'

The ultimate message: freedom
Herodotus was an advocate of freedom and democracy, which give man a chance to act with dignity, and a foe of despotism, authoritarianism and tyranny.
A small handful Greek States defeated a great eastern power, only, because the Greeks felt free and were willing for that freedom to sacrifice everything.

R. Kapusciñski's travel reports are in the same master league as the works of G. Orwell or V.S. Naipaul. This book should be a model for all `true' reporters with its revelations of the cardinal and crucial events and their real background in ancient and modern history.
This work of a genius is a must read for all lovers of freedom.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Kapuscinski was a great journalist and travel writer, and in part of this, his last, book he presents a few fragments, a minuscule part, of his wide experiences. These fragments become shorter and shorter while his reflections about Herodotus become longer and longer, so much so that the greater part of the work is about the Greek historian. The book is beautifully translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska.

Born in 1932, Kapuscinski grew up in a Poland which had become Communist after the war. He became a journalist, and round about 1955 he was sent abroad, in the first place to Italy. The first set piece comes early in the book: his first time out of Poland, his first travel by air, and the stunning impression, as his aircraft descended at night to Rome airport, of a city sparkling with lights and such a contrast with the very low-wattage country from which he had come.

Then he is sent to India: another memorable description of dense crowds sleeping on the platforms of Calcutta railway station.

To China next, and the highlight of that section for me is him spelling out the contrast between the teachings of Confucius and those of Lao-Tse.

He has sinister experiences in Cairo. He was in the Sudan and then in the anarchically violent Congo, then in the Abyssinia of Haile Selassi, where travel was scarcely less dangerous. After this, the accounts of his travels become ever briefer. In Dar-es-Salaam he is struck by the multi-ethnicity of that meeting point between Africa and Asia. Then to Algiers, arriving the day after Ben Bella had been overthrown by the military (1965), and a city where the mix of populations and religions was more flammable. Next Senegal and Goree, with their terrible history of the slave trade. He was in Iran during the final days of the Shah's rule; but says little about the political situation, much more about his visit to Persepolis, to which he was drawn by Herodotus' stories of the Persian Empire.

For, from the beginning, he has always taken on his travels a copy of the Histories of Herodotus, a writer whose attraction to him is such that not only does he become very fond of him, but also finds that he came to identify more and more with the world and events that he portrayed than with the world which Kapuscinski was himself experiencing, aware though he is of the gap between the facilities (transport, reliable maps, sources of information like libraries or archives, methods of communication) available to the two of them. Herodotus helps him to escape from what T.S.Eliot called `the provincialism of time'.

Kapuscinski often interrupts the stories of his own experiences by recounting episodes he has come across in the works of the great historian. These sometimes deal with the regions in which Kapuscinski is himself travelling at the time; but at other times I can see no direct connection between their narratives. However, there is a strong connection between their interests. Like Kapuscinski, Herodotus has the urge to record, so that history should not be forgotten. Like Kapuscinski, Herodotus is intrigued by the sheer difference between his own civilization and the customs and mind-sets of other people; and both are insatiably curious and restless, always on the move. Both writers are seized of the vastness of the spaces in their own time, and even more by the vastness of the spaces of which they know nothing. Herodotus' accounts were based on his own travels in search of oral information about the past history of these regions, though he frequently tells us that he cannot vouch for the truth of what he has been told. Sometimes Kapuscinski recreates Herodotus' scenes in his mind, bringing his own imagination to bear. At other times he is frustrated by questions to which he himself would want answers; and he is struck also by the absence of any moralizing or commentary in Herodotus' accounts of the most appalling cruelty, massacres and unspeakable barbarities, though at other times Herodotus will make philosophical judgments about history - judgments which have profoundly influenced Kapuscinski. All this emerges while we are led through Herodotus' accounts, first of the expansion of the Persian Empire and then of that epic conflict between that Empire and the Greeks which has captured the imagination of generation after generation: Xerxes versus Themistocles; freedom versus servitude; sea-power versus land-power; Thermopylae, Salamis.

A fascinating weave.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 August 2014
A most stimulating read. Kapuchinski writes with verve and authority and takes Herodotus' 'Histories' on his tours of Africa, Europe and Asia as his travel companion. He weaves Herodutus' work with his own impressions as he works for a Polish newspaper as their foreign correspondent in the early 20th century. Travels with Herodutus is a rich, wonderful read. A great book for the modern traveler to read and enjoy.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 November 2014
An amazing work from an incredible writer. Kapuscinski writes about his encounters with humanity in a way that few can. by interweaving his narratives with tales from Herodotus he adds an even deeper level of understanding and insight.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 June 2013
I think when you've read a lot of Kapuscinski the bar is automatically very high. I did enjoy reading "Travels with Herodotus" but not quite as much as some of his other books hence 4 rather than 5 stars. I really enjoyed the parts of the book that were purely Kapuscinski's travels and accounts but found it harder to get into the Herodotus parts. Still all up an excellent book.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse


Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)