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3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  86 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
"His keen understanding of history and legend...illuminate[s] his visits." —Publishers Weekly

"A vivid picture of the island." —Associated Press

"It is hard to think of anywhere on earth where so many firsts and mosts are crammed into a space so small," Barry Unsworth writes of the isle of Crete. Birthplace of the Greek god Zeus, the Greek alphabet, and the first Greek law
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 16th 2007 by National Geographic (first published February 1st 2004)
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Gail Pool
Dec 31, 2015 Gail Pool rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even for the Greeks of old, “Crete was the most venerable and ancient place imaginable,” says the novelist Barry Unsworth in his chronicle of a trip he took to the island with his wife one spring. According to myth, Crete was the birthplace of Zeus, and it was where Zeus later carried Europa, daughter of a Phoenician king, having seduced her in the shape of a bull. “Crete then, not only gave Europe its name, it was where Europe began,” he says, “a truth Cretans have always known.”

Writing with im
May 04, 2014 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because in all likelihood I'm never going to visit Crete, I felt compelled to at least armchair travel there. The book was just the ticket. Brief (but then again it's a fairly small island) and vivid travelogue through the place where if you believe your mythology Europe began when Europa gave in to Zeus's advances. This was part of a literary travel series and indeed read like literature, so it was somewhat less humorous and more serious than the regular travel book fare, but managed quite nice ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an odd and rather pleasant little book, the account of a springtime visit to Crete around 1993. As I was reading it, I could not shake the feeling that it was written forty or fifty years ago, probably because the black and white photographs looked as if they dated from the 1950s. Barry and wife Aira's trip proceeds from west to east, mostly along the north coast of Crete, with occasional forays inland and to the south. Even in the early 1990s, tourism was growing faster than the infrast ...more
P 19 “ Of course photographs never do justice to our expeirnece. They can’t contain the complex of impressions that made the experience so memorable. But memory too suffers from a similar sort of necessary simplification. A visual image is never purely visual; it depends on the feelings and sensations of the moment, elements beyond our power of recall.”

Pg 35 “ Chania is the best place to start when you first come to crete.

P 51 “ according to the legend, anyone suspected of heresy or conspiracy
Mike Mills
This made me yearn to go back to Crete. I wanted to buy a plane ticket after reading the first five pages. I have visited and walked on some of the paths that were described in this book; The beautiful and Venetian inspired city of Chania, the Samaritan gorge, the ruins of some of the churches and places of worship, the beautiful secluded beaches, and the mythological stories and the places that they occurred in. Crete has its hands full in the birth of civilization. So much history that shaped ...more
Tim Owens
Mar 07, 2016 Tim Owens rated it liked it
Barry Unsworth takes the reader on his travels of Crete. Mixed in with where to go are many ancient myths relating to the island. The author takes the reader on a journey of the island from west to east exploring caves and other geographic features. The long and tortuous history of the island is briefly covered. The story isn 19t all ancient history when Unsworth gives his take on some of the local life and activities on the island. The book stimulates a desire to visit the island while at the s ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I didn't learn much more than I already knew about Crete. But it was nice to remember what we so much loved about Crete from our trip a year ago. Unsworth kept our dreams alive. I was a bit disapppointed that the photographs were in black and white, seeing as it is a National Georgraphic publication, which is capable of such exquisite photographs. This book made me want to read some of Unsworth's other books.
Never been to Crete, but now I want to.

Unsworth provides almost a diary-like small book covering his visit to Crete in 1993, his observations on the old and new way of lives, his respect for the history of the Island and his enjoyment of the simple things.
Jul 30, 2016 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written, elegantly understated. This is the book I'll refer back to as I begin my visit to Crete next week. A small travelogue, part of a set published by National Geographic. I'll look to other books in the set for future travels.
Virginia Van
Nov 04, 2016 Virginia Van rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written account of a trip to the island of Crete and an attempt to analyse its appeal. Must read for anyone visiting Crete.
Matt Brant
Kind of a bland writing style from a very serious writer, but short and interesting enough for people into places and people of the Med.
Jul 12, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this during our vacation to Crete. His observations are spot on, his descriptions enlightening.
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Jul 28, 2013 Jeremy Burtt rated it really liked it
A meandering yet pleasant tale. Decent blend of history and observation...
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Barry Unsworth was born in 1930 in a mining village in Durham, and he attended Stockton-on-Tees Grammar School and Manchester University, B.A., 1951.

From 1951-53, in the British Army, Royal Corps of Signals, he served and became second lieutenant.

A teacher and a novelist, Unsworth worked as a lecturer in English at Norwood Technical College, London, at University of Athens for the British Council
More about Barry Unsworth...

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