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Istanbul : A tale of colliding histories

Istanbul: a tale of three cities.
Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle, where the idea is as potent as the historical fact. From the Quran to Shakespeare, this city with three names — Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul — resonates as an idea and a place, and overspills its boundaries both real and imagined. اضافة اعلان

Standing as the gateway between the East and West, it has served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was known simply as The City, but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a story.

In this epic new biography, Hughes takes us on a dazzling historical journey through the many incarnations of one of the world’s greatest cities. As the longest-lived political entity in Europe, over the last 6,000 years Istanbul has absorbed a mosaic of micro-cities and cultures all gathering around the core. At the latest count archaeologists have measured forty-two human habitation layers.

Phoenicians, Genoese, Venetians, Jews, Vikings, Azeris all called a patch of this earth their home. Based on meticulous research and new archaeological evidence, this captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul is visceral, immediate and scholarly narrative history at its finest.


“This is historical narrative brimming with brio and incident. Hughes’s portraits are written with a zesty flourish ... Istanbul is a visceral, pulsating city. In Bettany Hughes’s life-filled and life-affirming history, steeped in romance and written with verve, it has found a sympathetic and engaging champion.” — Justin Marozzi, The Guardian

“Her latest book, Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities, is a particular stroke of genius ... Over the years the city has had three names — Byzantium, Constantinople, and Istanbul so in a vivid rattle she hurls Xerxes, Alcibiades, Constantine, Justinian, Theodora, Suleyman the Magnificent and a sometimes-overwhelming cast of thousands before us ... 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 ... The book is littered with historical echoes that ... are impossible to ignore ... there are wonderful anecdotes. ... She concludes with an encomium to Istanbul as a world city — literally, a cosmo-polis — where faiths and ethnicities are brought together by learning or trade ... not an original thought but one that in this particularly troubled moment, for bomb-hit Istanbul and the rest of us, bears repeating.” — 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 colorful characters and fascinating tangents ... the quintessential historical overview of a city racing up the modern political agenda.” — Richard Turner, The Lady

“10 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

About the author

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 honored with numerous awards including the Norton Medlicott Medal for History.

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