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The Harem: Inside the Grand Seraglio of the Turkish Sultans [Paperback]

N.M. Penzer

RRP: 14.49
Price: 12.58 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 July 2005
For nearly 4 centuries, the Ottoman sultans dwelt amid the secret splendors of the Grand Seraglio. Penzer presents photographs and floor plans that provide a comprehensive view of Topkapi Palace's structure and architecture: gardens, chambers, and pavilions plus profiles of the harem's women and their eunuch guards. 42 black-and-white illustrations.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well documented, but BORING 18 Sep 2007
By Chaotic Mind - Published on
This would be an excellent book for a college course on Turkish history, but if you are looking for an interesting book- MOVE ALONG.

This book is so incredibly boring to read, it'll put you down like a baseball bat.

Other than that- it's well written and very concise. Do not expect anything racy or sexy. It treats sex like a seventh grade health course.

The book also does not deal with the Harem entirely. It covers the palace of the Sultan, which the Harem is only one part. So don't expect an entire book on slave girls. It covers everything else and only spends part of the book on the women themselves.

I have this book and I'm looking for another book to supplement it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eh, not as good as expected 18 Feb 2012
By Kim Swain - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I gave up on it, it wasn't what I expected. I might try picking it up again later. It was relatively cheap because I bought it used, so it wasn't a big loss.
3.0 out of 5 stars mostly boring and academic, until you hit the good parts 16 Jun 2013
By adorian - Published on
This is a reprint of a 1936 work, so the vocabulary (and racism!) will be hard to accept. Negresses? Laundress? Portress? The author was more interested in old stones than I am. I got so tired of reading about a ruined gate or a half-toppled wall that some tourist had seen decades earlier, but which no longer stands.

But just as I was getting bored, we hit a section on eunuchs, and I was grossed out by the details of how to make one and what all he can and cannot do that I almost begged for a return to long descriptions of crumbled towers. Eventually, we get to the power intrigues of the higher-ranking women and the murders they command in order to get their sons on the throne, which I found really interesting. In fact, I hoped for more.

I kept awaiting more detailed accounts of The Hall of Circumcision. And a room referred to as The Room Where They Murdered the Rival Princes. And apparently, someone at the royal court had the job title of The Keeper of the Sherbets, a job I might have liked to have had, except I would probably have been tortured to death for handing the Sultan the wrong flavor.

The reading of this book was made even more difficult because there are a couple of pages where the final letter of each line is omitted, so you have to guess what word was intended.

There are a lot of cheap black-and-white pictures. I think this book would appeal more to architects and archeologists. I can't recommend it to the casual reader.
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