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Publisher's Summary

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 listeners 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.

©2017 Bettany Hughes (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)
"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)
"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 daunting undertaking pulled off superlatively

Would you listen to Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities again? Why?

Yes. There is just so much there, and it is so well done. It wld serve as an excellent guide toward digging deeper into a particular topic, era, personage etc....

Who was your favorite character and why?

I am a huge fan of Justinian, Theodora, Alcebiaties and Harold Hadrada. All make appearances.

Which character – as performed by Bettany Hughes – was your favorite?

It is history and she performs no characters per se, but her narration is excellent.

Any additional comments?

This is a huge undertaking. And is achieved with style. This book wld serve this historian, the history buff and the layperson with equal excellence. But particularly the layperson and the (somewhat) educated consumer. The narrative is chronological, the tangents limited but extremely relevant and the author's passion for the topic comes through in her narration. The City is really at the epicenter of major historical events in both Western and Eastern civilization. With amazing characters and tales that the most imaginative fiction writers could not have made up, this is an epic story. And extremely well told. I have been an Audible listener practically since inception. This is the first review I have ever written. That is the best compliment I can offer for this book, story and performance.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful