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Istanbul : City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World
by Thomas F. Madden


Overview - One of Time's 12 Books for the History Buffs on Your Holiday Gift List

The first single-volume history of Istanbul in decades: a biography of the city at the center of civilizations past and present.

For more than two millennia Istanbul has stood at the crossroads of the world, perched at the very tip of Europe, gazing across the shores of Asia.  Read more...


 
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Overview
One of Time's 12 Books for the History Buffs on Your Holiday Gift List

The first single-volume history of Istanbul in decades: a biography of the city at the center of civilizations past and present.

For more than two millennia Istanbul has stood at the crossroads of the world, perched at the very tip of Europe, gazing across the shores of Asia. The history of this city--known as Byzantium, then Constantinople, now Istanbul--is at once glorious, outsized, and astounding. Founded by the Greeks, its location blessed it as a center for trade but also made it a target of every empire in history, from Alexander the Great and his Macedonian Empire to the Romans and later the Ottomans. At its most spectacular Emperor Constantine I re-founded the city as New Rome, the capital of the eastern Roman empire, and dramatically expanded the city, filling it with artistic treasures, and adorning the streets with opulent palaces. Around it all Constantine built new walls, truly impregnable, that preserved power, wealth, and withstood any aggressor--walls that still stand for tourists to visit.
From its ancient past to the present, we meet the city through its ordinary citizens--the Jews, Muslims, Italians, Greeks, and Russians who used the famous baths and walked the bazaars--and the rulers who built it up and then destroyed it, including Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the man who christened the city "Istanbul" in 1930. Thomas F. Madden's entertaining narrative brings to life the city we see today, including the rich splendor of the churches and monasteries that spread throughout the city.
Istanbul draws on a lifetime of study and the latest scholarship, transporting readers to a city of unparalleled importance and majesty that holds the key to understanding modern civilization. In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, "If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780670016600
  • ISBN-10: 0670016608
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publish Date: November 2016
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.35 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Middle East - Turkey & Ottoman Empire

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-10-31
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this fast-paced account of Europes largest city, Madden (Venice: A New History), director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at St. Louis University, recounts how Istanbul gained its status as a meeting place and a battlefield for cultures. Founded by Greeks as Byzantium in 667 B.C.E., it served as a kind of urban bridge between Asia and Europe. As Constantinople, it became the eastern center of Christianity until it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453. Thereafter, it was, until the modern period, a strikingly cosmopolitan place, about 40% non-Muslim in 1700, with significant populations of Greek Orthodox, Jews, and Armenian Christians. Madden adroitly describes the succession of the often bloodthirsty rulers of premodern Constantinople, including Murad III (who ordered the strangulation of his five brothers in 1574), as well as health crises, such as the bubonic plague epidemic of 542 that claimed an average of 5,000 lives per day. Unfortunately, Madden races through the citys modern period, from the Young Turks 1909 uprising to the 21st century, including a mere paragraph on the anti-Greek riot of September 1955 that caused most of Istanbuls remaining Greeks to flee the city. This flaw aside, Madden succinctly captures the citys often key role in global political and religious history. (Dec.)

 
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