When I was travelling in Turkey I met an Israeli guy in a youth hostel I visited, who was on the verge of giving me this book for free because he felt so strongly that I should read it. He gave me enough time to read just the prologue and the first chapter before changing his mind (quite justly) and giving the book to his daughter who was arriving in Istanbul that very day. But I didn't need a whole chapter and a prologue to convince me that this was a book that I had to read; I'd decided that within the first few lines. Written by a man who takes as much time and care in his delivery of subtle and sometimes blatantly inflated wit and humour (the less we mention about the title the better); as he does in his probing of a culture riddled with intrigue and historic mayhem. Page after page we are driven deeper into the true Turkey; minus the carpet salesmen and the perfume sellers; free from the lobster gangs of British and German tourists. And the strange even bizarre thing is that we are led there by a man mildly amused (and perhaps thoughtfully obsessed) by a conical, possibly even comical, hat. So I would like to thank that Israeli man for allowing me to briefly taste the way travel books should be written; because when I got back home Turkey and its people made a whole lot more sense. As did their headwear.
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