IN SEARCH OF ZARATHUSTRA is a quest to trace the influence of the prophet the Greeks called Zoroaster and considered the greatest religious legislator of the ancient world. Long before the first Hebrew temple, the birth of Christ or the mission of Muhammad, Zarathustra had taught of a single universal god, of the battle between Good and Evil, of the Devil, Heaven and Hell, and of an eventual end to the world. Over several decades, Paul Kriwaczek, an award-winning television producer, has cast his eye across Europe and Central Asia, from Hadrian's Wall to the Oxus river, from the Pyrenees to the Hindu Kush. Passing via Nietzsche's interpretation of Zarathustra for a post-religious age, the Cathars of 13th-century France, the Bulgars of 9th-century Balkans, and the prophet Mani's revision of Zarathustra's message in the later Persian empire, Paul Kriwaczek then explores the religion of Mithras - before going back past Alexander the Great's destruction of the Persian Empire, and the era of the great Persian kings Cyrus and Darius in the 6th century BC, to the beginning of the first pre-Christian millennium.
Paul Kriwaczek was born in Vienna in 1937. In London he trained as a dentist, and spent a decade working in Iran and Afghanistan. From there he travelled extensively in Asia and Africa before developing a career in broadcasting and journalism. In 1970 he joined the BBC full-time and wrote, produced and directed for 25 years. A former head of Central Asian Affairs at the BBC World Service, he is fluent in eight languages, including Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, Hindi and Nepalese.