In Search of Zarathustra

by Paul Kriwaczek

Hardcover, 2002



Call number




Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2002), Hardcover


IN SEARCH OF ZARATHUSTRA is a quest to trace the influence of the prophet the Greeks called Zoroaster and considered the greatest religious legislator of the ancient world. Long before the first Hebrew temple, before the birth of Christ or the mission of Muhammad, Zarathustra had taught of a single universal god, of the battle between Good and Evil, of the Devil, Heaven and Hell, and of an eventual end to the world. Over several decades, Paul Kriwaczek, an award-winning television producer, has cast his film-maker¿s eye across Europe and Central Asia, from Hadrian¿s Wall to the Oxus river, from the Pyrenees to the Hindu Kush. Passing via Nietzsche¿s interpretation of Zarathustra for a post-religious age, the Cathars of 13th-century France, the Bulgars of 9th-century Balkans, and the prophet Mani¿s revision of Zarathustra¿s message in the later Persian empire, Paul Kriwaczek then explores the religion of Mithras ¿ before going back past Alexander the Great¿s destruction of the Persian Empire, and the era of the great Persian kings Cyrus and Darius in the 6th century BC, to the beginning of the first pre-Christian millennium.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member thierry
A failure in what could have been a great book on a fascinating and overlooked subject matter. Zarathustra was a historical figure in Ancient Persia who through his teachings and prophesies gave rise to a religious belief system acknowledging one creator and stressing a dualism between light and
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shadow/good and evil. Once predominant in Persia, it has survived to this day in small communities.

The author tries hard to establish this book as an authoritative account of Zoroastrianism’s history, beliefs and impact, but is unconvincing. I found this book to be at times presumptuous in the conclusions it draws from the evidence presented, and hollow in what it tangible information it offers: despite promising to reveal all about Zarathustra, I had to do my own internet research on Parsi, one of the few surviving communities in India and one can find much better resources on the link between Zoroastrianism/Manichaeism and the Bulgars/Cathars.

A book that does not know whether to be an entertaining travelogue or thoughtful historical research, and ends up being neither.
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LibraryThing member neurodrew
An interesting book, speculative and light on scholarship, on the continuing influences of Zoroastrian tradition on modern Iran. It is somewhat of a travelogue, about the author's visit to Iran in search of holy places, and much historical speculation about the links of the ancient Zoroastrian
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ideas to the Albigensien heresy, the Sarmatians who were a noble horse-race from the Caucausus, who might have been the origin of chivalry, and about the roots of Shi'a Islam in Iran. The bibiliography was thin and made me wonder how much of the book, although seemingly learned, was speculative
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LibraryThing member worldsedge
The scholarship in this work is candidly wanting. The author goes out of his way to force connections that are altogether dubious as from Zoroastrianism to Manicheanism to the Bogomils to Catharism. I have no idea who has the right of it, but this work is radically different than O'Shea's work on
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Catharism I recently finished. Which book is correct I'm unsure, possibly even both are.

Where this book works is as a travel narrative, and with his interesting observations how certain elements of Zoroastrianism have been overlaid by Islam in Iran.
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LibraryThing member epersonae
It's been weeks now since I finished this one, and I'm trying to think what I still remember of it! Just an interesting wander through history around the mysterious figure of Zarathustra: a little Nietzsche, travels in Iran & Afghanistan, ruins under London, etc. He makes a pretty decent case for
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elements of Zoroastrianism being present in the big three monotheisms. Also, more tidbits that I can use for this idea I have for a D&D setting based loosely on central Asia.
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LibraryThing member ElleGato
Interesting but also not very well organized. I felt like there was little coherence, although the history was incredibly interesting.
LibraryThing member SGTCat
It seemed to be a very rambling story. The information wasn't organized well. It would have been better if it was chronological. The main part of the book is also history lessons on almost everything but Zarathustra. I suppose I was expecting more about Zoroastrianism and how it affected the
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traditions of later religions. Also, the way it's written makes it harder to get through. It's not very conversational. It feels stuffy. I've read textbooks that were more clearly written. The redeeming factor in all of this is that it does offer some information, if not exactly what I was looking for. The joke on the last line isn't too bad either.
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Original publication date


Physical description

244 p.; 9.29 inches


0297646222 / 9780297646228
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