August 12, 2007


The world's greatest traveler : a review of TRAVELS WITH HERODOTUS.
By Ryszard Kapuciski (STEVEN E. ALFORD, Houston Chronicle)

Linking his own movements with that of the world's greatest traveler seems only natural. Herodotus, born in 485 B.C.E. in Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum) in Asia Minor, lived for a while in Athens and ultimately settled permanently in southern Italy, in the Greek colony of Thurii, dying around age 60. His true home, however, was the road, and his record of both his travels and the origins, actions and consequences of the Greek-Persian wars formed a book that can be read and reread forever. [...]

The Histories served a dual purpose for Kapuciski. On the one hand, Herodotus "strove to find out, learn and portray how history comes into being every day, how people create it, why its course often runs contrary to their efforts and expectations," lessons invaluable to any journalist.

At the same time, the book, like history itself, became his "accustomed refuge, a retreat from the tensions of the world and the nervous pursuit of novelty into a peaceful realm of sunshine and quiet that emanates from events that have already occurred, people now gone and sometimes who were never there, having been only contrivances of the imagination, fictions, shadows."

Kapuciski notes that Herodotus' greatest discovery was that there is no such thing as unmediated, "objective" history, that history always has its origin in the account of some specific individual. His continual references to his sources, reminders that "someone told me that," are not confessions there is no true story of our past but recognition that our past is the sedimented result of a mass of individual stories.

-Father of Journalism: a review of Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Wilson Quarterly)

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 12, 2007 7:23 AM
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