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A Gift for the Sultan Paperback – October 3, 2010
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The author's prose here is often enthralling in narrative as he describes both the harsh and mundane nature of two complex cultures. What disappoints is the danger inherent in knowing so much about the history of such events. The author wants to share every tidbit, every nuance, all the while concocting characters and the relatvely microscopic view of such characters and story amid this pivotal turn of history. His device in doing this - is all too often dialogue. But one seems to hear in this dialogue a history professor acting out events in the voice of characters, this approach to fiction flattening the potentially intriguing lives of his characters, leaving them to be swallowed by culture and history.
Still, this book is worth the read because of the author's knowledge of this early fifteenth century religious and cultural clash.
What most astonished me about Turkey were the Greek ruins everywhere. Even during the First Century, when the writers of the New Testament lived in Turkey, the culture of Anatolia was Greek. But it all changed so abruptly with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Everything subsequent is Turkish and Islamic so anything modern in Turkey is Turkish and Islamic; anything ancient is Greek. The cultures are quite different. So I determined to look into this book by Geoffrey Fox, and I am glad that I did. The book made the history much easier to digest and to understand because it took me inside the two cultures, Greek and Turkish, right back at the crisis point. As a result, I have become much more interested in the eastern Mediterranean than I was, and feel that my understanding of world history and cultures was expanded in a most enjoyable way thanks to this book.