Author(s): Bettany Hughes
Istanbul explores a city which stands as a gateway between the east and west, one of the indisputably greatest cities in the world. Previously known by the names Byzantium and Constantinople, this is the most celebrated metropolis in the world to sit on two continents, straddling the dividing line of the Bosphorus Strait between Europe and Asia.
During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. Its architecture reflects these many cultures, including the Hagia Sophia (Byzantine), the Blue Mosque (Ottoman), the Valens Aqueduct (Roman), the Topkapi Palace (Ottoman), and more modern Art Nouveau avenues built in the 19th and 20th centuries - many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. With the founding of the Republic of Turkey by Ataturk in 1923, Istanbul was overlooked and Ankara became the capital. Over the next 90 years, Istanbul has undergone great structural change, and in the 1970s the population of the city rocketed as people moved to the city to find work, turning Istanbul into the cultural, economic and financial centre of Turkey.
Events there recently have again brought Istanbul to the forefront of global attention. Indeed, while writing this book, Bettany was caught with her daughters in the crossfire of Taksim Square. Bettany Hughes has been researching and writing this rich portrait of one of the world's most multi-faceted cities for over a decade. Her compelling biography of a momentous city is visceral, immediate and sensuous narrative history at its finest.
Fiery and magnificent new biography of Istanbul... Hughes does a fantastic job of cramming all this history into a fluid and engaging narrative. She also possesses a great turn of phrase, such as when she describes Haghia Sophia as seeming "to be suspended by a golden chain from heaven"... A gripping and erudite book. -- Stav Sherez CATHOLIC HERALD
Award-winning historian Bettany Hughes pieces together the history of Istanbul in a riveting biography of a brilliant, bloodied city. -- Madeleine Keane SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (IRELAND)
Ten years in the researching and writing, it's a glittering mosaic of a history, packing the stories of three cities - Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul - into one volume, from their earliest settlement in 6000BC, to the 20th Century. -- Caroline Sanderson THE BOOKSELLER
It is a story well worth telling as the region continues to implode, the final or at least latest lashings out of the Ottoman Empire's collapse... there are wonderful anecdotes... -- Richard Spencer THE TIMES
A magisterial new biography...Bettany Hughes transports the reader on a magic-carpet-like journey through 8,000 years of history...in a vivid narrative dotted with colourful characters and fascinating tangents...the quintessential historical overview of a city racing up the modern political agenda. -- Richard Turner THE LADY
Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. Her previous books - HELEN OF TROY: GODDESS, PRINCESS, WHORE and THE HEMLOCK CUP: SOCRATES, ATHENS AND THE SEARCH FOR THE GOOD LIFE - were published to great critical acclaim and worldwide success. Hughes has made a number of factual films and documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, PBS, National Geographic, Discovery, The History Channel and ABC. She is a Research Fellow of King's College London and has been honoured with numerous awards including the Norton Medlicott Medal for History. www.bettanyhughes.co.uk / @bettanyhughes