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A Tale of Three Cities

Istanbul has long been a place where stories and histories collide, where perception is as potent as fact.

From the Koran to Shakespeare, this city with three names–Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul–resonates as an idea and a place, real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between East and West, North and South, it has been the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was the very center of the world, known simply as “The City,” but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a global story.

In this epic new biography, Hughes takes us on a dazzling historical journey from the Neolithic to the present, through the many incarnations of one of the world’s greatest cities–exploring the ways that Istanbul’s influence has spun out to shape the wider world. Hughes investigates what it takes to make a city and tells the story not just of emperors, viziers, caliphs, and sultans, but of the poor and the voiceless, of the women and men whose aspirations and dreams have continuously reinvented Istanbul.

Written with energy and animation, award-winning historian Bettany Hughes deftly guides readers through Istanbul’s rich layers of history. Based on meticulous research and new archaeological evidence, this captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul is visceral, immediate, and authoritative–narrative history at its finest.

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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Middle East / Turkey & Ottoman Empire

On Sale: September 12th 2017

Price: $25.98 / $33.98 (CAD)

ISBN-13: 9781478988656

Meet The Author: Bettany Hughes

Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster. Her previous books, Helen of Troy and The Hemlock Cup, were published to great critical acclaim and worldwide success. Hughes has made a number of factual films and documentaries for the BBC, 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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A Talk with Bettany Hughes, Author of Istanbul

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"Groundbreaking...a colossal undertaking...a notable achievement"--Roger Crowley, bestselling author of 1453

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"Impressive. In Istanbul, Hughes plays intriguing, sophisticated games with time and space.... By making unlikely connections between well-described locations and events separated by eons, she gives voice to those witchy, diachronic feelings in a spectacular fashion."--The Economist

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"Richly entertaining and impeccably researched. Hughes's ebullient book is an ode to three incarnations of the city."--Peter Frankopan, author of the international bestseller The Silk Roads

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"Brimming with brio and and life-affirming history, steeped in romance and written with verve"--Justin Marozzi, award-winning author of Baghdad

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"Mesmerizing... Weaves research and insight with understanding and love: here is a book written as much with the heart as the mind."--Elif Shafak, award-winning author of The Bastard of Istanbul

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"Hughes is not an argumentative historian. She avoids the debates of academe. She is a wistful and impassioned cosmopolitan who has produced a challenging story."—Financial Times

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"A deeply researched biography of a legendary city...A panoramic cultural history of a fascinating place."
Kirkus Reviews

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"Packs the story of its three iterations-Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul-into one volume, from its earliest settlement in 6000 BC, to the 20th century. Though it sweeps across eight millennia, this glinting mosaic of a book is divided up into short episodic tesserae that evoke vivid aspects of the city's history and demonstrate the long reach of it influence."

The Bookseller

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"A vibrant, sprawling portrait of a city as enigmatic as it is historically important...Hughes' entertaining narrative style with its visual details, dramatic archaeological discoveries, and cliffhanger chapter endings allows her erudition and exuberance to shine."
Booklist (starred review)

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