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am 17. April 2000
This is a delightful combination of history and guide, addressing the history of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul from the earliest Greek settlements to the present day. Mr.Freely provides a short but very readable account of the reigns of every Emperor and Sultan (and regardless of origin or religion the vast majority were a ghastly but entertaining bunch!) and sets them in the context of the growth of the city and of its principle monuments. The book is worth purchasing for the guide section alone, which is at the end of the book, and which provides excellent short descriptions of al the main architectural features and archaeological remains. This reader's only regret is that the book had not yet been published when he spent significant periods in Istanbul, for it is not only unique in concept and format, but also superior to any other book he has encountered as a guide to this wonderful city. It can be thoroughly recommended for anybody making a visit to Istanbul, however short. Readers whose interest is whetted by the chapters on pre-conquest Constantinople will find that John Julius Norwich's splendid three volume-history of Byzantium provides the extra, and fascinating, detail they crave.
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am 11. Januar 2000
This is both a book on history and an excellent guide of one of the world's most wonderful cities. Dr. FREELY first takes you through the history of the city and then provides a very complete, concise list of monuments and museums.
If you are planning to visit Istanbul and want to say that you really (but really!) saw the city, this is one of the books to buy!
am 12. April 2000
When, in the popular film "Notting Hill", the bookseller character (Hugh Grant) prominently recommended this book to the famous actress/bookstore customer character (Julia Roberts), I thought the volume had to be a studio prop. But, on checking Amazon.com, I discovered that it wasn't. It is instead a very real, readable and excellent history of the city of Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, from the time of its founding in the distant past to the modern day present. A nice feature is the section at the back that describes in more detail the various historical monuments alluded to in the main body of the text. Istanbul is one of the last remaining entries on my personal list of the world's great cities that I intend to visit in my lifetime. After reading this wonderful book, I'm ready to buy the plane ticket and go. Now, all I have to do is convince my wife.
am 5. Januar 1999
This well written and richly illustrated book takes the reader on a breathtaking tour of the remarkable city of Istanbul. From antiquity through the Byzantine era, all the way up to the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire -- Freely doesn't stint his reader one bit. Although the approach is anecdotal, the author distills the essence of each period under discussion with literary panache. A special annex at the end of the book (which itself is about a quarter of the text) offers an extensive discussion of some of the monuments mentioned in the preceding narrative. An ideal companion, if you're planning a trip to Istanbul. Or, if you're an armchair traveler like me, this book will bring the imperial city directly to you.
am 7. Juli 1999
Falling in love with Istanbul during three visits motivated me to pick up this book, but both as a travel and a history book, it is fascinating enough in its own right. This history reads very fast, with the characters morphing and returning from the (nearly) dead, just like a soap opera. By focusing on both the history and where it happened, Freely's book will make the next trip to Istanbul even more rewarding. Unlike most travel guides, this book covers the lesser-known places, for someone with the time and the interest to seek out what's left of them.