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on 13 January 2016
mysterious work
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on 5 March 2017
a brilliant book.
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on 2 February 2015
good service. well pleased.
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on 11 August 2007
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. I would have enjoyed more extensive comparison between the other rulers of their times and ottoman sultans, which would help readers to evaluate; the Sultans, the Ottoman Empire, the city and its population, fairly as most of the time Ottoman Empire and its system is critisized on today's value system.

Super powers again wanted to control Istanbul and its hinterland by enforcing their value system. Each super power prefers that Istanbul should better be run by weak administrations rather than another rival super power fully controls it. And today, the history repeats itself.

Constantinople will be Constantinople (multi cultural, multi ethnic, indulgent, intriquing, passionate, full of conflicting interests) until the end of time as it is the city that everyone desires.
11 Comment| 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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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on 25 September 2011
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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on 13 November 2005
I bought this book to prepare my trip to Istanbul. On the one hand I can only agree that the book is full of very interesting details about life in Istanbul after 1453. On my subsequent sightseeing I realised that the book had indeed given me a lot of background knowledge about what I was seeing and it certainly helped me make the sights come alive. (Also, by the way, I read it just before reading Orhan Pamuk's brilliant novel "My name is Red" and it almost seemed like Mansel's book was what had inspired Pamuk's description of life at the Sultan's court in the 1590's.)
But on the other hand, I found that the author's cumbersome style and the lack of an apparent structure of the text sometimes make it tedious and unsatisfying to read. And in order to really benefit from the book, the reader should definitely have a pretty good grasp of Ottoman history before reading this.
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on 23 November 2000
This is an excellent book on Ottoman History and particularly on the history of Istanbul. Philip Mansel has explored almost every aspect of social and political life of Constantinople. I found fascinating the stories associated with Sultans, harems, ceremonies, intrigues inside the palace, etc.
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on 10 May 2004
Constantinople: City of the World's Desire, by Philip Mansel is one brilliant book on the history of Ottoman Empire from 1453 focusing on Istanbul, the Imperial city.
The most prominent feature of the book is its objectivity. Even if you are unfamiliar with the subject, you can still appreciate this feature. More than telling stories it tells you history, by giving numbers, dates, facts and by comparing them to the contemporary countries, civilisations and cultures. Thus you can understand the circumstances of the era and make your own conclusions.
The book is very well-written. It is very pleasant to read and makes you desire to visit this imperial city and see all those historical places with your own eyes.
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on 10 November 2010
A great discovery. Really a first class history book, marvellously well written and full of details and anecdotes.
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