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Through TV and books the Trojan War becomes a hot topic

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In London, Michael Wood is known as the man who caused a sellout of Homer's classics in the main bookshops. Now he'd like to start a literary stampede in America for ``The Iliad'' and ``The Odyssey.'' In Search of the Trojan War (PBS, now airing in some cities on Mondays, 8-9 p.m.; check local listings for days and times) is the title of the six-part series and also of a companion book in which host/writer Michael Wood attempts to discover whether the Trojan War, set nearly 3,000 years ago in Homer's epic poems, was real or mythical. Mr. Wood also attempts to pinpoint the location of Troy.

In the TV series, Wood visits all of the key sites associated with the war, speculates on the varied scientific and nonscientific theories as to the accuracy of Homer's geography, and makes side trips into the world of storytelling and archaeologists' adventures.

For those not enchanted with Greece and Homer, ``In Search of the Trojan War'' may be a bit overextended; three or four hours might have done the job.

But for viewers who can involve themselves in the wonders of Bronze Age Greece, the series offers a tantalizing continuum of romantic explorations, seeded throughout with intellectual discovery.

It's a glorious archaeological armchair adventure.

Wood visited New York to tell Americans about the BBC-produced series, which is being presented on PBS by station KCET of Los Angeles. Enthusiasm for Greece permeates his conversation. This Oxford-educated, self-described ``popularizer'' calls the series ``a cross between historical journalism and detective work. I did actually train as an historian but as a medievalist. So, although I am not a professional in Homer's period, I did ask questions that the experts had failed to ask.''

Wood doesn't consider himself a crusader for Homer, even though the programs have sparked new interest in the poet.


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