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Publisher's Summary

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 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 listeners 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."

©2016 Thomas F. Madden (P)2016 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Excellent and Entertaining

My wife and I are visiting Istanbul soon and I wanted to know something about the city before I went. This book is perfect! I feel like I know the city as if it were a person. My only critique is there was no mention of the Armenian genocide- why?

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorites !

I love audiobooks and have listened to many. This one easily is in my top 3. The story was extremely well written without lots of fluff and offered a fabulous summary in 300 pages of the 2,000 year history of Istanbul. The author struck the perfect balance between detail and big picture. The narrator's voice and pacing was perfectly suited to the story and enhanced the overall experience. Together, the story and narration, make this one of my favorite audiobooks of all time.