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Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean
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Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  143 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews

"Keahey's exploration of this misunderstood island offers a much-needed look at a much-maligned land."—Paul Paolicelli, author of Under the Southern Sun

Sicily is the Mediterranean's largest and most mysterious island. Its people, for three thousand years under the thumb of one invader after another, hold tightly onto a culture so unique that they remain emotionally and c
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Sep 27, 2016 Marita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of history, mythology, travel and Italy
"To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey (1786–1788)
If you are looking for a standard guide book to Sicily, this might not be what you want. If however you are truly interested in the history and culture of Sicily, then this book will probably delight you as much as it did me. I visited Sicily for a few weeks in 2008 with an historian as guide, and toured Mount Etna with a v
Nov 27, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I read this book as I set out on a 10 day journey around the island of Sicily. Although I am sure I would have enjoyed my trip whether I had read this or not, I can say with certainty that my trip was significantly enhanced by this book. The author does so much more than re-hash the famous sites or perpetuate Sicilian stereotypes - he gets behind the scenes and gives insight into the history and culture of the place. It really brought the island to life in ways that a typical travel narrative co ...more
Susan Tekulve
Jun 18, 2012 Susan Tekulve rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent travelogue by a wonderful journalist. Keahey has his own favorite points of interest, and his narrative voice is highly agreeable; however, like any good journalist he doesn't place his own agenda first or try to make himself into the "hero" of his own journey. Instead, he records rich details and observations about his travels in a way that allows the reader to see and experience this somewhat unknown country for herself. I read this book twice.
Dec 16, 2015 Jeanette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History, travelogue, witness documentation- all of the above.

This explains the dissonance with Italian identity, language differences, world perception, and other self-identity issues which I have always discerned in my humans of Sicilian heritage and origin. Those who were nearly life-long Sicilians in location, as well as those who left in the early or mid 20th century diaspora.

The history is so complicated and complex to invasion, hierarchy, tribal or ethnic origins, beyond factors of religio
Sep 24, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
For the person who is contemplating a trip to Sicily or someone, like me, who is reminiscing about a recent visit, this is an excellent read. The author links mythology, current culture, historical events and key figures, into a most readable and enjoyable experience.
Feb 21, 2015 Hazel rated it liked it
Despite my preference for reading fiction, I did enjoy this book. The author took a few trips to Sicily in different seasons, and recounts his travels in a leisurely paced style. Each chapter deals with a certain topic (my favorite one was on food!), and in fact it almost seems as though each chapter could have been a free-standing magazine article. This brought back many memories from our trip there last spring, but it also broadened my knowledge of the country's history and culture. The author ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Rebecca rated it liked it
Summary: The content in this book is fantastic, but I was less impressed with the quality of writing.

I read this in preparation for a trip to Sicily, and I was glad that I had because I knew a lot more about the fascinating and complex history of the island, as well as some fun insights into the culture and collective psyche of Sicilians (did you know that the Sicilian dialect has no future tense?).

However, I was less than impressed with John Keahey's writing. There wasn't much cohesion betwee
Sep 10, 2016 Karima rated it really liked it
Received this book as a gift from my daughter, with whom I recently traveled to Sicily. Surprisingly, I like that it was researched and written by a non-Sicilian. It's easy to wax poetic about this island when one claims an ancestry here, but for one outside the clan to do so, it somehow rings truer.
I learned a lot about the peasant class and the oppression and inescapable poverty they endured. Would have liked to hear more of the aristocratic class and how they obtained and maintained power.
Ron Davidson
Nov 23, 2015 Ron Davidson rated it really liked it
I'm still on an ancestral homeland phase. . . .

A good primer for those (like me) who know little to nothing about the history and culture of Sicily, but who don't want to get overloaded with details, rather learning vicariously through a travel author's observations. The author intersperses his travel experiences with some relevant historical background, all the while providing informative descriptions of local customs and the lives of individual Sicilians. I had heard about the Arab and Greek i
Fortuitously, this book came out just a day or two before we left on a trip to Sicily! I liked the writing style and organization very much, as I felt like the author was sharing thoughts on various topics of immediate interest. As my husband read it first, i began reading it about a week in to our trip and found many anecdotes to answer questions I had (all of those prickly pear plants) or to match observations I'd made myself (tiny sheep legs as they hurried down the road around our car).

Oct 01, 2016 Enia rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it on the plane to Sicily and fact-checked everything upon my arrival by talking with these beautiful people. John Keahey is right on. Grazie mille!
Jun 18, 2016 Aly rated it really liked it
I thought this was a nice book about Sicily considering there are not many out there. I read this to learn more about the country my family came from but was a little disappointed that the author stuck to one town in Sicily and also mainly spoke about his favorite Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia. But other than that it had a little of everything, history, culture even a couple recipes.
This is an excellent book. It covers all the essentials, which makes it a perfect handbook for anyone visiting Sicily with an interest in the island's amazingly complex history.
Jan 21, 2014 Richie rated it really liked it
Lovely little book about the most unique of Italian places. Keahey does a great job of weaving historical information with his own personal observations of the place. He also shows remarkable restraint by not always injecting himself in the story. Can't wait to visit.
Jan 28, 2015 Marie rated it really liked it
One of the best books that I have read on Sicily. The perfect blend of memoir and history, and great insights into the people who call themselves Sicilians.
Lee Riggs
May 21, 2013 Lee Riggs rated it really liked it
Engaging series of essays on different facets of modern Sicily, based on the history and geography/geology of the island; focusing on the different waves of colonists and invaders over 3,000 years who added to the culture. Glad to have read it after visiting Sicily, as I think it makes more sense after having been there, but some of the information would have been helpful before traveling there.
Feb 06, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
Interesting information but I found the writing style non engaging. It felt like I was experiencing Sicily with an outsider who would permanently remain so. He didn't delve deep enough into the topics to satisfy my interest level. Recommend with reservations
Aug 09, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy
I wish this book had been written before I went to Sicily in 2005! Well written, engaging and fascinating to read about the past and present in Sicily. I wonder if Sicily is getting more tourist as a result of books like this and the Montalbano Detective series. Makes me want to go back. It's about the food!
Aug 25, 2014 Donna rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and learned so much more about Sicily's past and history. It was very interesting to read about what cultures overtook the island and how those cultures were blended in with the Sicilians, where they are even very visible today. An amazing island I hope to make it back to someday.
Dec 24, 2014 Maurice rated it liked it
Lovely journey through Sicily, certainly also interesting for those who already know Sicily quite well. Racalmuto will certainly be my next stop through that wonderful island. Recommended read for anyone setting off to Sicily for holidays or more.
Oct 14, 2013 Linn rated it really liked it
Helpful information on Sicily even if you don't go to the same towns as the author. I didn't get caught up into the chapter that dealt with all the battles that took place and instead focused more on the timeline given in the beginning of the book.
Jul 07, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. An interesting exploration of the forces and history that make Sicily Sicily!
Jun 27, 2012 Kaitlyn rated it it was amazing
What an awesome book! It really explained the history and culture of Sicily, and was written in an easy-to-read way. Definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in Sicily.
John Keahey
May 05, 2011 John Keahey rated it it was amazing
This book will be released Nov. 8. But it can be pre-ordered at the usual locations. Here's a book trailer:
Aug 01, 2013 John rated it liked it
Less of a travel book and more of a rambling meditation on the history and character of the island. I need to get over there.
Trish Files
May 03, 2016 Trish Files rated it liked it
This has interesting history, but it's not a very exciting read. I was hoping for more of a travelogue
Jorn Straten
Feb 23, 2013 Jorn Straten rated it really liked it
Awesome book about the history and culture of Sicily. You get a profound knowledge.
Karen marked it as to-read
Oct 19, 2016
Tom is currently reading it
Sep 25, 2016
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