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Istanbul: The Imperial City Paperback – July 1, 1998


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Istanbul: The Imperial City + Istanbul: Memories and the City + Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City (Tauris Parke Paperbacks)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140244611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140244618
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Freely first went to Istanbul in 1960 to teach physics at Robert College, now the University of the Bosphorus, to which he returned in 1993. His first book was STROLLING THROUGH ISTANBUL and he has subsequently written more than twenty other travel books including CLASSICAL TURKEY, STROLLING THROUGH ATHENS, and STROLLING THROUGH VENICE.

Customer Reviews

This is a great historical overview of Istambul.
MrPinrel
An easy read, it follows the trajectory of the city's fabled history in a smooth chronological rhythm with each period captured in quickie chapters of fifteen pages.
Richard R
If you are interested in history and want to delve deep into Istanbul's history while visiting here, then I strongly recommend this book.
L Samma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Donal A. O'Neill on April 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By S. YALCINKAYA on August 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I guess, the best saying about Istanbul is from Petrus Gyllius, -a French humanist and diplomat- who had been to Istanbul during the age of Suleyman the Magnificent. Gyllius called the Bosphorus "the strait that surpasses all straits, because with one key it opens and closes two worlds, two seas".

This book starts with this comment and goes on emphasising the true beauty of the city.

John Freely is a magnificant author and obviously in love with Istanbul. Actually he is a physic professor. You can follow his precise style in all of his books. The very fascinating film "Notting Hill" from Julia Roberst and Hugh Grant made this book popular all around the world. The travelbooks-shop owner Hugh Grant recommends this book to Julia Roberts just in the beginning of the film and emphasizes its high quality.

It goes without saying that Istanbul is a well written and well illustrated book. If you have been to Istanbul before, it will remarkably reinforce your memories. If you are a real fan of history and architecture and adore intellectually written books, dont skip this one. Really breathtaking! It will take you to a whimsical yet magnificent city and its history; particulary Byzantine era. The detailed information about Istanbul's monuments, Theodosian walls (built by Theodosius II in the first half of fifth century, AD, which are still magnificent even in their ruins, the long line of towers and battlements one of the enduring symbols of Byzantium), churches, obelisks, mosques, geography and historical events which were successfully chronicled will definetly help you to understand both its glory and history. Whilst reading this book, you will see the talisman and smell judas trees, terebinths,cypress, plane trees and umbrella pines. The part of history is excellent.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 11, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A reader on June 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book does have a lot of information about Istanbul, but it's the kind of book that someone would finish only if he or she were living in Istanbul or going there on an extended visit. The book isn't really entertaining in itself, but there are lots of facts and dry anecdotes about the city's history.
A better, more interesting, book on historical Istanbul is Constantinople : City of the World's Desire 1453-1924 by Philip Mansel.
As for Freely on contemporary Istanbul, he is never able to give the reader a feeling for what it's like to spend time with the people who live in Istanbul, like Max Rodenbeck is able to do in his book about another city, Cairo: The City Victorious. There must be better books about Istanbul out there.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
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.
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