This is an extraordinary story of how a 24-year old organ inventor became the first Westerner to see the inside of the Turkish Sultan's harem and live - and come back to London overland via Greece, another first.
But not only is it a rattling tale of adventure into strange and unknown lands, it is also a revealing insight into some of the customs and attitudes of the time, both national and religious. He shows us how "Turk" and "Greek" were religious labels, and what pressure there was in Moslem countries to convert to Islam in order to escape from slavery, as well as for all women to wear the burka. The centuries between then and now, the rise and fall of nationalism and religious tolerance, seem in the light of this book to have been a passing phase.
Equally fascinating is the way some Greek islands only produced one or two products, but England was buying a wide range of goods from the whole world and marketing itself as a high end supplier of technology and culture. Are we back there again?
Dallam's is an extraordinarily fresh and spontaneous account of the many adventures that they encounter. It reads almost like modern journalism, without the philosophic detail of other Elizabethan writers. He was not an aristocrat, but a highly skilled artisan, inventor and musician. His opinion of the corrupt, bribe-taking captain of their ship is withering, but his view of consuls or ambassadors balanced, giving credit when due and blame when justified.
All in all, a fascinating read, made easier by John Mole's excellent rendering into modern English and occasional notes to explain Dallam's account by what else we know of the events and attitudes he relates. So many riches in a relatively short account!