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by Gore Vidal
Best Historical Fiction (124)
Top Five Books of 2013 (361)
Historical Fiction (155)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375727051, Paperback)In 445 B.C., Cyrus Spitama, the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster, is the Persian ambassador to the city of Athens. He has a rather caustic appreciation of his situation: "I am blind. But I am not deaf. Because of the incompleteness of my misfortune, I was obliged yesterday to listen for nearly six hours to a self-styled historian whose account of what the Athenians like to call 'the Persian Wars' was nonsense of a sort that were I less old and more privileged, I would have risen to my seat at the Odeon and scandalized all Athens by answering him." Having thus dismissed Herodotus, Cyrus then dictates his life story to his nephew, Democritus, with similar disdain for the Greeks--whom we in the modern world have come to view as the progenitors of civilization, but whom Cyrus considers to be bad-smelling rabble.
Of course, Cyrus Spitama speaks with a very modern, ironic voice supplied to him by Gore Vidal--and the political intrigues in which Cyrus finds himself immersed are likewise familiar territory for fans of Vidal's historical fiction. But the narrator's delightfully wicked observations are the icing on a narrative of truly epic scope--out of his desire to understand the origins of the world, Cyrus undertakes journeys to India, where he encounters disciples of the Buddha, and China, where he engages Confucius in philosophical conversation while the great sage fishes by the riverside. Creation offers insights into classical history laced with scintillating wit and narrative brio.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:19 -0400)
Cyrus, a fifth century Persian, relates the story of his travels and encounters as an ambassador.
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