Top positive review
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One Of The Best
on 3 May 2014
I re-read this book about once every two years, and I think I've gone through three copies. As historical novels go it avoids the present over-active sex and slaying model, and goes for the reasoned wanderer. Just as with the great Alfred Duggan (all of whose narrators sound like a slightly blasé English gentleman) the narrator of Creation (Cyrus Spitama) is a New England Yankee - he is Gore Vidal but on a really good day. The Greek Wars have been purloined for the purpose of comparison with the War of Terror. But Vidal goes back to the older world where British and American imperialists and scholars worshipped at the feet of Greece and Rome; he then suggests a good deal of the received view of the Greek Wars (and much else Persian) is wrong - in some cases anticipating future scholarship. The poem "The Persian Version" by Robert Graves predates Creation and shows the same refusal to accept the received view (as well as allowing a pop at Great War military reporting). Gore Vidal does not simply write a contrarian history; he has identified that in one lifetime a person could have met (or met at one remove) a list of great philosophers (Zoroaster, Socrates, the Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tsu, and Confucius) and historical characters (Perikles, Thucydides, Darius, Xerxes and many other Greek and Persian names). At times the novel is reportage, and others a travelogue, a commentary on various religions, and an arch tale of the life of a courtier.
It is a wonderful piece of work; immerse yourself in it.