Geert Mak is a Dutch journalist and historian whose earlier book In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century (Harvill Secker, 2007), based on his travels around the continent on the eve of the millennium, chronicled a grand, looping exploration of the frontiers of history and memory.
The Bridge is a much smaller affair – more of an extended essay about the Galata Bridge across the Golden Horn in Istanbul. It’s a meditation on aspects of the cultural bridge and gulf between Muslim Turkey and the West, as between past and present, and the city and the village.
There’s been a Galata Bridge across the Horn only since 1845; before that, the short crossing was made by the ever-graceful caique. Since then it has had five incarnations, the latest and least graceful being the concrete lump of 1994. It carries traffic between the ‘old city’ – Topkapi, Grand