Roger Crowley

Micklegarth by Sea

Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 800pp £25 order from our bookshop

‘This city will always pursue you,’ wrote the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy a century ago. He was describing his native Alexandria, but the sentiment might equally apply to the city that is the subject of Bettany Hughes’s ground-breaking book: Istanbul. Hughes says that she has loved this place for four decades and has spent ten years researching and writing about it. As she states, ‘Over 8,000 years, over 320 generations’ worth of humanity have lived, worked and played here.’ There has been no recent large-scale history of the city with many names (Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul), which makes this colossal undertaking a notable achievement, coming at yet another turbulent moment in its long existence. The book opens with the recent discovery of Neolithic remains in the substrata of Istanbul, and it ends on 4 March 1924 with the last Ottoman sultan, Abdülmecid, and his family being packed off to Switzerland on the Orient Express. In between lies Istanbul’s extraordinary history. It is a place, in Hughes’s words, ‘where stories and histories collide’.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • A review of fiction for Monday morning: David Jays on the Sparsholt Affair - ,
    • .@simon_schama's Belonging is a 'highly personal and idiosyncratic history of the Jews': ,
    • Hurrah! is upon us. Fill your boots with free copies of the magazine and soak up the festival goodness.,
    • Free copies of the magazine available at , starting next week. Enjoy!,
    • Newsletter - ,
    • Still some few tickets available, at a discount, using code CLFLR10 or following this link: ,
    • . begins later this week. Get your tickets if you haven't already, and look out for free copies of the magazine.,