In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Part 1: The 1998 Footsteps of Alexander the Great Tour
In 1998, Mansur Johnson and his girlfriend, Marianne, went on a trip to the Middle East, following (as the title says) in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Twenty years later, he’s written a book detailing the first half of his journey. It’s not just a description of his travels. He’s included pictures as well, showing ancient ruins and the cities as they look today. To borrow a joke Johnson makes in the book, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this book is one of the wordiest I’ve ever encountered.
The journey starts in Athens, with the Parthenon. From there, Johnson and Marianne travel to Alexander’s birthplace in Edessa. After that, they go to Syria, then to Egypt. (The next leg of the journey will appear in the second volume of this work.) At every stop along the way, Johnson contrasts the historical (and at times mythological) aspects of the city he’s in with what he finds in the late twentieth century. The differences are fascinating, especially in Egypt, the country that was simultaneously the most disappointing and the most interesting. I won’t give away what assigned it either description, because I was glad to go into that chapter mostly blind, but I will say that Johnson makes some very interesting arguments regarding history.
The whole book, in fact, is full of interesting arguments. I came to this book expecting to learn more about Alexander the Great’s travels, as he’s a figure I’ve had a casual interest in for a while. I did learn a bit more about him, but I found myself more interested in just what else I could learn, especially about ancient pantheons. Reading the book was rather like taking my own journey, in a way: what I thought might be a side trip wound up becoming the main attraction.
This book has too much substance to be a coffee-table book; the pictures and the nature of the narrative make it such that I would suggest reading more slowly. Perhaps you don’t need to take as many days to read a chapter as Johnson spent in the chapter’s city, but I would suggest taking your time with this book and lingering over the pictures and descriptions. You could treat it as a vacation; at times I felt I was right there with him.
In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great is not just a recounting of one man’s journey. It feels more like looking through a friend’s photo album and listening as he tells you about his trip. If you enjoy that sort of intimacy in travel writing, then I would definitely suggest picking up this book.
|Page Count||212 pages|
|Publisher||The Einstein Academy|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|