In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale Paperback – 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
but the part that i thourougly enjoyed in this book was the village life and characters from the egyptian village and the real life struggles that they were going through.. made me want to hop on the next plane to egypt and see these ppl for myself..
As the reader quickly discovers, Ghosh in this book works with three narratives. One is a 'detective' story, albeit in the most scholarly of veins. As a student Ghosh recounts how he came across a reference -- one line -- to an Indian slave who worked for a Jewish master, Abraham ben Yiju. Who was this most marginal of historical personages, whose name emerges -- the time is 1148 AD -- "when the only people for whom we can even begin to imagine properly human, individual, existences are the literate and the consequential, the wazirs and sulatans, the chroniclers and the priests -- the people who had the power to inscribe themselves physically upon time...the slave of Khalaf's letter was not of that company: in his instance it was a mere accident that those barely discernible traces that ordinary people leave upon the world happen to have been preserved."
The detective search for more information on the slave, his owner, the world they both inhabited, leads Ghosh to Geniza of Cairo, a storehouse of Jewish documents which miraculously survived the destruction that seems to be the fate of most paper over the course of many centuries. The documents are themselves a diaspora in miniature: none remain in Egypt, being dispersed to St. Petersburg, Oxford, Cambridge, Philadelphia...and yet the book recounts how Ghosh tracks them down.
The second narrative requires Ghosh's novelistic gifts, as he attempts to reconstruct, from mere shreds of evidence, the life of Abraham and his slave.Read more ›
Ghosh also provides a very readable history of the study of history, how the documents and information related to these periods were discovered. He has been very successful in holding the reader's attention. The book is worth reading.
Most recent customer reviews
But it does! This book takes three part-stories, dry academic scholarship, adapting to life in a completely different culture and a slave in 12th century Egypt, that are each... Read morePublished on May 30 2000 by Robert Simpson
This is a must read book. Ghosh somehow weaves together the history of Cairo, a traveling Jewish merchant, marginalization, the fate of 2nd world countries, and a diary of his... Read morePublished on May 8 2000
This is one of the most outstanding books I have ever read. Ghosh's narrative is both textured and thorough, and he communicates masterfully the relationships between periods and... Read morePublished on Nov. 14 1999