I intend to post this far and wide.
Apollo: The Great God by Gregory Zorzos
I found this book a few weeks ago while scouring Amazon for books on Apollo. Rather excited to stumble on one that I hadn't heard of, I put out an inquiry in a few places. No one had heard of the author or the book. I decided to go ahead and order it. Even if it was mediocre at best, thirteen bucks plus shipping isn't terrible.
I received the book today and immediately started flipping through it. I could see right away that something was wrong. Very wrong. (Oh, how I long for mediocrity just now.) This book is self-published. Which doesn't mean it will be a bad book- there are many very high-quality, well-written books out there which have been self-published. I own a couple of them. This guy makes the decent self-published authors look bad.
The book (and please understand, I use the word "book" here with a very generous margin of error) is one hundred and fifty-two pages long. Of that, pages twenty-three through one hundred forty-nine plus page one hundred fifty-two are all images. Statues, vases, ancient coins, renaissance-era paintings, modern-day postage stamps. Oh, and one page containing two images titled Secret Symbols of Apollo- one of those so-called images is a grid of numbers that at first glance looks like a sudoku grid. The other is...well, I don't know. And I have no idea how we're supposed to know that these are secret symbols of Apollo- is that part of the secret?
Most of the images are fairly low-quality- often grainy or pixelated. Several are images of the same item, shown from a slightly
different angle. Some of the images are duplicates- the same photo of the Apollo Belvedere appears on page twenty-three and forty-one with a cropped version of the same appearing on page forty. (But this is a nice, sharp higher-quality image!) None of them are captioned. No titles or artists given for the paintings, no dates or regions for the coins or statues. If the images were of decent quality with source information, the book would almost be worth it for the pictorial reference. As it is, what's there is less useful than your typical google image search. In fact, I suspect that that's just what this is. Minus any information that would come along with the image search.
As far as the text goes, there's nothing here that you can't find on http://www.theoi.com
. In fact, there is significantly less. There is no bibliography. The author mentions a few other authors by last name (No first name. Who the hell is Hermann, for example?), but gives no titles of books. He cites some ancient sources but for the life of me I can't figure out what half of them are because he only uses abbreviations with no key. Every sentence is its own paragraph. The print is huge- sixteen, eighteen points? The first three paragraphs of the book appear on the back cover.
The writing is clumsy and awkward. I find myself wondering if it's an issue of having used a faulty translating service (the book appears to be available in eight different languages, and some of his other books are available in at least a half dozen additional languages.) or if he actually did the English translation himself, it would have been helpful to have someone with a stronger grasp of the language look over it. In any case, it really looks like the translation was done by a babelfish machine.
The er, high point of this book may very well be the author's introduction. Now, it's pretty standard to have a page or so about the author at the end of the book, and often a photo as well. What do we have here but four pages devoted to the author, along with several photos. Included is a numbered list of organizations that he belongs to and awards that he's won. The introduction informs us that "The author has wrote more than 500 books, board games, DVDs and cdroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies etc. As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them."
(What, he wasn't editor-in-chief of all of them?)
This was when the book was published back in February 2009. As of right now, his Amazon.com author page informs us that "Author and his research work have been distinguished by a lot of official organizations, and Ministries, in Greece and all over the world.
The author has wrote more than 1.300 books, 350 board games, 650 DVDs and 280 cdroms/DVDroms about ancient and modern history in the fields of economics, technical, board games, martial arts, software, love affairs, feasibilities studies, research, case studies, learning languages, logodynamics, inner research etc.
As a reporter, from his teens, the author has written many articles in many newspapers, magazines etc. and was editor in chief in some of them."
Looking at these numbers cited, I initially wonder when he has time to eat or sleep- or breathe what with writing all those books. But then I look at the example in my hands and it becomes immediately apparent how he could conceivably have written so many books. Quantity is clearly the goal. Another book by the author, Hephaestus or Vulcan: The Greatest God was reviewed by another Amazon customer and relays my exact same complaints. (For some unknown reason, this book, which is only fifty-six pages long and almost all pictures costs more than Apollo. Did he have to spend more time on google looking for images or something that it jacked up the cost?)
Finally, when looking over the author's page on Amazon today, I saw a single discussion had been initiated back in September by another author claiming to hold proof of being plagiarized by Zorzos, and knowing of other authors with the same complaint against him. I've not found anything else on the internet regarding this, but that it's there at all is a glaring red flag, especially considering the number of works he claims to have produced.
For those of you who may be wondering, I filed a return request with Amazon within about an hour of opening the box.
No stars, no love, no thumbs up. If you want a book about Apollo, save your money. You could write a better one yourself. And if you don't feel like doing that, just pull up the page on Apollo at http://www.theoi.com
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