Istanbul

City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: History, European
4.5 out of 5 stars (132 ratings)

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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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    4 out of 5 stars

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 people found this 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.

1 person found this helpful

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A History Without People

If you are curious about the buildings, past and present, of Constantinople this is your book. I was going to call it an architectural history but it's not that. Who built what when is the subject of this book. Not much architectural detail. I got through six chapters of building projects before I gave up. The stories of the people who lived there are virtually absent. I wish I could return it.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent read

Dr Madden is one of the greatest historians of this generation and Istanbul shows why: he tackles an incredibly large subject and not only competently presents a history of the city but does so in an engaging style.

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Fabulous<br />

Excellent book by the author of Venice : A New History. Well researched and the reader is clear.