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Constantinople: City of the World's Desire, 1453-1924 Paperback – 19 Oct 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (19 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719568803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719568800
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'An endless treasure chest of fascinating facts and extraordinary revelations ... a cultural and social history as much as a political and military one, Mansel's outstandingly researched portrait of this intriguing imperial city and its exotic denizens is gripping' (Robert Carver, Scotsman)

'The victory, the defeat, the magnificence, the squalor, the cruelty and the tolerance of the Ottoman years are all recorded there, Constantinople is one of those cities to which I always long to return, and the longing grows on every page' (Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph)

'Marvellous ... the experience of the whole city grows with the book ... you always feel close to the beat of Constantinople's raffish and mysterious heart' (Michael Ratcliffe, Observer)

'A happy blend of shcolarship and panache ... If you have visited Constantinople, read it: if not, buy it before you go' Lawrence James, Evening Standard (Lawrence James, Evening Standard)

'Plenty of intrigue and bloodshed. The squeamish should skip the city's solution to the stray dog problem... and focus on the convincingly documented and colourful ebb and flow of economy and society' (Charmaine Chan, South China Morning Post)

Book Description

'Without question one of the best books ever written by an Englishman on the Turks' William Dalrymple

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In his book Mr. Mansel brings to light why all the great powers in the history wanted to control Constantinople and its hinterland. Their motives were not only politic but economic as well. All wanted Constantinople to be an open city.

By giving quotes from contemporary diplomatic corresspondances, accounts of travel writers and history books writen back then; he explains the power strugle behind the scenes.
Sultans ruled the city and the Ottoman empire but, who influenced them? Answer is in the book, Mothers, Eunuchs, dragomans, Pashas, Ambassadors. It clearly shows that when Mehmed conquered the city he adopted the Roman system. In fact he was the continuation of the Roman Empire.
After Pagan Rome (I) and Christian Rome (II), he established the third, Muslim, Rome. As money does not have any religion, the inhabitants of the city wanted to continue their trade and increase their wealthy under the new administration. Cons.ple continued to be the magnet for the rest of the world whether they were firends or foes.

The palace entriques, just like in Rome, continued until last day of the Ottoman empire. (and also it is still continuing today)to control the power and wealth.

The book also gives a good example of the modernization and democratization efforts in the Ottoman empire trying to catch up with Europe and the forces opposing it, which is still continuing today, too.

Mr. Mansel's knowledge on other dynasties of Europe and Midddle East adds a lot into the book.
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By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the conquest of Constantinople and the end of the Byzantine Empire, in many ways it was business as usual. Constantinople became an increasingly cosmopolitan and tolerant city throughout the Ottoman period and also increasingly westward looking, until it all started to go wrong in the lead up to the First World War, with violent nationalism on all sides leading into ethnic cleansing, not just in the 1920s but even beyond. I was surprised to learn in the epilogue that even as late as the mid-1950s there were still more than 100,000 Greeks still living in Istanbul, but (allegedly government supported) rioting forced most of them out.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it, and history like this should be read more widely. With Turkey's entry into the EU surely inevitable sooner or later despite misgivings about some of its nationalistic policies and political prosecutions, understanding Turkey and its past is more important than ever.

This book has given me an excellent insight into the social, cultural and political life of the city in the past half-millenium prior to my impending visit there. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful work by Philip Mansel. It is the first book of his that I have read and it really incites me to discover this author. His style of writing is precise and effortless. His historical research is perfect. The book is rich with anecdotes, details and he makes interesting comparisons. I was hooked by his fabulous story of Constantinople from the beginning. I absolutely recommend this book to all those who want to understand the history of this fascinating city.
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I am not sure this can even be called a book. Its a collection of notes the 'author' has put together into a book format that has no concrete time frame or thread running through it. It is quite literally all over the place and incredibly badly organised. The author is obviously also totally in love with the turks and for example simply glosses over the brutality of the Turkish slave system of janissary slave soldiers and eunuchs for the govt administration all forcibly abducted from Christian families in Turkish territory. This is possibly the worst book on Turkey and Istanbul I have come across. It seems he simply made basic notes of conversations with turkish people and then turned it into a book. In many places he is quite simply wrong and in others it seems he has no depth of knowledge about the history of the city. Avoid this book
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A brilliantly written book that gives you the flavour an ere and politics of the day. I could not put it down and as resident of Istanbul it helped me understand the culture and feeling of the city even more so.
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If you have visited Istanbul this will bring back many happy memories. If you have not it will encourage you to go there. A very detailed book which on every page is a delight....one of the very best travel/history books i have ever read. Now I have finished it I will start it again !
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