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A fascinating journey through time and across Europe and Central Asia, in search of the prophet Zarathustra (a.k.a. Zoroaster)—perhaps the greatest religious lawgiver of the ancient world—and his vast influence.
In Persia more than three thousand years ago, Zarathustra spoke of a single universal god, the battle between good and evil, the devil, heaven and hell, and an eventual end to the world—foreshadowing the core beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moving from present to past, Paul Kriwaczek examines the effects of the prophet’s teachings on the spiritual and daily lives of diverse peoples. Beginning in the year 2000 with New Year’s festivities in Iran, he walks us back through Nietzsche’s nineteenth-century interpretation of Zarathustra to the Cathars of thirteenth-century France and the ninth-century Bulgars; from ancient Rome to the time of Alexander the Great’s destruction of the Persian Empire; and, finally, to the time of Zarathustra himself.
Not only an enthralling travel book, In Search of Zarathustra is also a revelation of the importance of the prophet, and a brilliantly conceived and lucid explication of the belief systems that helped shape the European Enlightenment, the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, and the beginning of the Christian era. It is an enthralling study of a little-explored subject.
“Vital. . . . Remarkable. . . . Artfully reveals the Zarathustian hinges of Iranian culture. . . . [It] is written with the prescient elegance of a curious traveler and in the hope that ideas that once changed the world may do so again.” —Boston Review
“Intriguing. . . . Engaging. . . . [A] brisk, smart, remarkably detailed journey.” —The Memphis Commercial Appeal
“A fascinating and neglected subject. . . . [Kriwaczek takes] his readers back to ancient times with imagination and style, moving deftly between the present, the recent past, and the mists of time.” —The Independent
“An original, exacting, and many-faceted inquiry.... Fresh and consistently perceptive and surprising.” —Booklist
“Outstanding.... Lively and fast-paced.... This is the best and most thorough survey of Zoroastriansim to date.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Brilliant. . . . Compelling. . . . A lively, always captivating blend of comparative religion, cultural history, literary travel and eccentric trivia that deserves a broad readership among the spiritually inclined.”" — Kirkus Reviews
“Part travel story, part history, part philosophical musing, In Search of Zarathustra is a relentless engaing look at a prophet without whom our modern religions might have turned out quite differently.” —Daily Camera