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Turn Left At The Trojan Horse: A Would-Be Hero's American Odyssey

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  243 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
"Turn Left at the Trojan Horse had me howling with laughter and nodding at the razor-sharp observation." --Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House

"Go away. Figure it out," she was saying. "Don't come back until you do." She looked at the calendar. "You have thirty-one days."

With these words, like Helen of Troy launching a thousand ships across the Aegean, Brad Herzog's wi
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Citadel (first published May 5th 2010)
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Brad Herzog
Mar 19, 2010 Brad Herzog rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, because I wrote this (May 2010 publication), and because I feel it may be my best work, I have to give it five stars -- or else my best isn't quite good enough.

On one level, TURN LEFT AT THE TROJAN HORSE chronicles my cross-country journey to Ithaca (New York) for a college reunion. But it is also a reimagining of Odysseus's ancient journey, as I pass through small towns with names like Troy (OR), Iliad (MT), Sparta (WI), and Apollo (PA), each with its own fascinating tale to tell.

The bo
May 25, 2010 Kristine rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This review is LONG overdue!

I won this book through the First Reads lottery here on Good Reads. I have had this book for two months now. I was in the middle of The Chronicles of Narnia when I received it from the author and...well, you don't just put down The Chronicles of Narnia. I started it as soon as I was done with that book, though.

When I actually started it, I was completely enamored with the concept behind it. This is not my usual read. I'm more of a fiction loving book worm. That being
Apr 02, 2010 Natalie rated it really liked it
I would read anything Brad Herzog writes, but this was a special read I savored a little bit at a time from the summer of one year into the winter of the next.

I love Brad Herzog's self-deprecating style and his ability to wander the world meeting people and starting the conversations that writers must if they are to write the story of where they've been and who they've met, instead of the story of why things aren't working out the way they imagined!

If Eat, Pray, Love bugged you, if you've ever
Jan 05, 2011 Stewart rated it really liked it
"The Odyssey" by Homer is one of my favorite books, and my library is full of books I've read about that ancient Greek classic and travelogues in general. "Turn Left" is both a book about "The Odyssey" and a personal odyssey across the U.S. from Seattle to a college reunion in Ithaca, N.Y. On the way, Brad Herzog stops at towns and cities that have names that come from ancient Greece, such as Athena and Troy, Ore., Calypso, Mont., Mentor, Minn., Siren and Sparta, Wis., Plato, Ind., Pandora, Ohi ...more
May 24, 2010 Karl rated it it was amazing
Turn Left at the Trojan Horse is Herzog at his best. A road trip story, a musing on the ancient world and how their values continue to influence us today, and a meditation on what is "a life well-lived" are just some of Herzog's themes. It's also a great look at pop culture and how it reflects the best and worst of our collective zeitgeist. It is at turns funny, pensive, and even melancholic. Herzog writes with a very self-deprecating yet self-aware voice. It might not hurt to have your Meridian ...more
L Greyfort
Sep 27, 2011 L Greyfort rated it it was ok

I'm a sucker for a great title; this has led me in some interesting reading directions, but has also lengthened my list of "Books That Are Not Quite As Good As You Hoped They Would Be" regularly. This one one goes straight onto the List. Near the top.

I enjoyed this one more for its travelogue than for its attempts at philosophical enquiry. Herzog is much more believable and sincere when he is relating his encounters with the inhabitants of the many Odyssey-related-named places he visits, than wh
Mar 25, 2010 Aimee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
To call this "travel memoir" is euphemism. It makes the book sound quaint, but the writing is too good to be quaint, and the "journey" too profound to be categorized as "travel" (unless it's used with half-irony). And while it is indeed a memoir of literal travel, it's most memorable aspect is not the bemused meanderings through Small-Town USA. What grabs you is the story that is fascinatingly built around Homer's Odyssey; what holds you is the writing that is at times stunning; and what sticks ...more
Jan 17, 2017 Mckinley rated it did not like it
That it sounded interesting, but it didn't capture me in reading it.
Jan 06, 2011 Maggie rated it really liked it
This is a travel memoir, but an unusual one. Initially, Herzog receives a class reunion notice for his alma mater, Cornell, and begins to go into a bit of a mid-life crisis because he feels that he has not achieved the level of excellence in his life that his classmates will have. No doubt after discussing and arguing it ad naseum, his wife suggests that he take a 30-day tour of the United States, and meet her in Ithaca for the reunion -- in the meantime, in her words he'd "better have figured i ...more
I had a craving for a good ol' travelogue about driving around the states, encountering people and places and relating those crazy anecdotes back to the reader. I bought this book really hoping it would deliver. It didn't.

That not to say it was bad, it just wasn't what I wanted, or even liked in a book. It was very Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I hated. We had to read it for college in a philosophy class. This book had that same feel to it.

I LOVED the parts where he did talk a
EDITORIAL REVIEW: ***Turn Left at the Trojan Horse*** has been described as *On the Road* meets *Eat, Pray, Love* because it goes well beyond a road trip. More than just a funny and profound narrative of Brad Herzog's cross-country trek toward a college reunion in Ithaca (New York) and more than another reimagining of Odysseus's ancient journey (he visits places like Troy, OR... Iliad, MT... Apollo, PA...), it is a memoir exploring the parameters of a heroic existence - by chronicling the lives ...more
At times I felt that Herzog was trying too hard to make the Greek-motif thing work, but I found this travelogue/memoir to be very enjoyable. It's got strands of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, with much less pretension.

Some chapters, indeed, are just plain fun. "Omphalos" and "Achilles" are the ones where I turned down page-corners. His family sounds quite interesting. Although he tries to be humble but it doesn't really come off that way, but he does come out pleasantly real. Seems l
Jun 22, 2015 Thomas rated it it was ok
Interesting concept as the middle-aged author reflects on life as he journeys across the country en route to his college reunion. He stops along the way in small towns with names found in Greek Mythology (i.e. Troy, Oregon & Calypso, Montana), and attempts to parallel his own odyssey to Homer's Odysseus. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. The audio book narration was part of the problem, but ultimately I found it a bit boring and pompous. Perhaps I would appreciate it more with st ...more
May 22, 2016 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Using The Odyssey and The Iliad as travel guides Brad Herzog travels the U. S. stopping in small towns between his home and his alma mater using the 30 days given to him by his wife to solve his mid-life crisis. This was an interesting travel story. He hits a lot of small towns with classic names to determine what he has accomplished and what has brought him satisfaction. He does come to an answer. I liked how he compared his life to Odysseus' life. It helps to have read The Odyssey for the fram ...more
Jerry Smith
Nov 18, 2011 Jerry Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-read, travel
An interesting idea for a book - Herzog travels the highways and byways of the US with reference to Homer's Illiad and Odyssey in particular and mythology in general. There are many highs and lows with this book in my opinion and I can never decide whether the mythological framework and context really works.

To be honest I found the homeric discussions the more interesting, with the modern travels a little hit or miss. Maybe that's unfair and might just be in the nature of travel books but ultima
B Dittrich
Aug 07, 2010 B Dittrich rated it did not like it
Shelves: summer-reads
I just couldn't get through this book. I usually save my fun recreational reads for summer, and this book took up too much of mine. Touted as "hilarious", I found it anything but. Instead, it was as melancholic as the author's search for self-identity. I finally abandoned it in August, realizing it had stolen the enjoyment I usually have from my summer reading time. One good part of the book... It does peel back the layers of local American landscape and culture, which was somewhat interesting.
Bruce Henderson
Jul 08, 2010 Bruce Henderson rated it really liked it
This book was a very enjoyable read. The author melded facets of Homer's Odyssey and Greek mythology into observations of lives and experiences on his trek across the States, touching on places, towns and people that just happened to have some connection to the Odyssey, if only in name. On more than a few occasions, I would be left to ponder broader ramifications. I can't ask for more than that.
May 26, 2010 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, holiday, guides
This is a fun and informative read for anyone who loves travel memoirs or the The Odyssey (or both). I'm much more a fan of the travel aspect and Brad's great profiles of small town life and the people who live there. I don't know The Odyssey well at all, so hearing those stories told with a modern perspective was quite interesting.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads and was so glad I did!

Lou Yonke
Jan 12, 2011 Lou Yonke rated it it was ok
Author Brad Herzog recently turned 40 and is journeying without his wife and kids in a Winnebago from Seattle, WA to Cornell, NY for his 20-year college reunion. He travels from town to town in search of the modern-day hero, paralleling the Iliad and the Odyssey and their stories of Greek mythology heros. It is not an exciting can't-wait-to-turn-the-page read as he meets and discovers both interesting and uninteresting people while on his journey. As my 2 rating indicates, it was ok.
Aug 09, 2011 Kflaroue rated it really liked it
A travelogue detailing one man's search for himself by recreating the Odyssey in America. I felt like a few of the side trips were more about him than the Greek story he was mythically following. It was a little rambling, but a few of the chapters were real gems, like meeting Q. For a beach read, it fit the bill.
Sep 11, 2010 Tina rated it liked it
Caught my eye because it was written by a fellow Cornellian and I liked the excerpt I read in a magazine. But, you have to appreciate and enjoy Greek and Roman mythology since he ties it in every step of his journey from the West Cost to Ithaca. Definitely had some great parts as you can't make up real life stories.
May 25, 2016 Eileen rated it really liked it
what does it mean to live a heroic life? that is the question to which the author is trying to find the answer in this travel memoir that is thought provoking and humorous without cynicism. his quest finds him meeting people from various walks of life who help him define what a hero is. along his journey, he parallels his adventures with those of Odysseus. an enjoyable read
Jul 24, 2010 Tessa rated it it was amazing
I love the way Brad Herzog writes: as if he's sitting across from you, telling one of his many stories. He's self-effacing and charming, and he's somehow able to recognize poignant meaning in each life he happens across. I love his insights about heroism and enjoyed the refresher course in Greek mythology that came along for the ride. Such an enjoyable book!
Jan 17, 2016 Cathi rated it really liked it
The title got me hooked. The Greek mythology kept me involved. Several chapters had me doing internet searches for more information (including but not limited to Portrait of Q). I'm requesting more Brad Herzog from my library.
Mar 25, 2013 Mark rated it did not like it
I thought this would be a nice story about traveling across America. Definitely wasn't my cup of tea.

I gave up after days of trying to force myself to read this book. Life's to short to read something you don't enjoy.
Brad West
Feb 13, 2014 Brad West rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
An interesting (and quick) read about a mid-life crises. Herzog decides to listen to/read philosophy and Greek mythology as he tours the country enroute to his college reunion. He meets some interesting people and learns some interesting lessons about work, life and happiness along the way.
May 13, 2014 Eric rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
The author was too full of himself and the parallels to the Odyssey were too forced for me to enjoy this book. I had just finished A Walk in the Woods by Bryson and prefer his self-depreciating humor to Herzog's self-aggrandizing.
Aug 23, 2011 Noah rated it it was ok
The classics thing is a cute gimmick, and Herzog's voice is well-developed, but I had trouble sticking with this one. I guess I wanted a little more road trip kinetics and a little less midnight dorm room bull session-style pondering.
Kelly Bolin
Nov 14, 2011 Kelly Bolin rated it it was amazing
One of the more unique and interesting travel books I've read. I really like the way he melded in the history/mythology to his adventure. (and as a little aside, I particularly love his comments about why the marathon is now 26.2 miles - I have often cursed English royalty at the end of them!!)
Apr 29, 2011 Becky rated it it was amazing
I don't know what to say. I'll have to let it sit with me for a while before I can say something coherent. Love the book. Love the stories. Love the connections.

I wrote about it here:
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Brad Herzog is the author of more than three-dozen books for readers of all ages. His children's books include the beautifully-illustrated picture book FRANCIS AND EDDIE (Why Not Books, 2013) and the five-book COUNT ON ME: SPORTS series (Free Spirit Publishing, 2014). His many alphabet picture books for Sleeping Bear Press include H IS FOR HOME RUN and S IS FOR SAVE THE PLANET, which was a finalis ...more
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“As we age we begin to grasp at youthful bliss like a life raft in a sea of harsh reality.” 7 likes
“If, as has been postulated before, heroism happens when courage meets circumstance, what if the circumstances are mundane?” 2 likes
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