Saturday, July 14, 2012


Because I love to read and share, my aim is to promote reading and sharing one book to one person at a time. 

The name "Book Nook" came from a used bookstore I used to frequent in Tel Aviv while living in Israel.


Constantinople: City of the World's Desire by Philip Mansel
This is one of the best history books I have read in a long time; it's elegantly written, fairly easy to read and creates a strong mental picture for a vanished multi-racial empire and city. It contains a very helpful bibliography for those of you that are interested in learning more about this time period and history. For anyone who has a casual interest in Istanbul's history, social structure and architecture, this book is a must read. 

The book starts off by telling the story from the very beginning of the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.  It is so well organized! And just to be sure to avoid confusion, this book is only about Istanbul-Constantinople, and not about the Ottoman Empire.

Mansel's tracking of well known families of Genoese, Venetian, Greek, Armenian, Arab, Jewish and Turkish origins, from medival times to modern times was very interesting and unique. It highlights the global nature of the city and the rich multi-cultural heritage of the Ottomans.

If this book has any weakness it is that, at times it covers a tad too many topics. And I think it is impossible to cover all the truly interesting things about Istanbul in one book. It is definitely not a light read. If you want to learn about Istanbul, I would recommend this one as a serious book on the topic.

In short, this is one of the most enjoyable history books I've read and should be read before visiting this glorious city.  

For anyone visiting Istanbul, this is a good book to take with you, along with your travel guide.

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