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Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul - A Review

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern istanbulThe heavens may turn about the world as they will. They will find no city like Istanbul. - Nabi, seventeenth century Turkish poet

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul begins with this quote and as you read through it, you will quickly come to know why Nabi felt that way and why subsequent generations preserved his words rather than relegating them to the status of outdated propaganda.

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul is written by Robert Bator and illustrated by Chris Rothero. It is part of a series of children's books called �Cities Through Time.� This series look at customs and daily life in great cities, such as Baghdad, Cairo, Istanbul and Jerusalem, from founding to the present. Don't let the fact that this is a children's book discourage you from using this excellent resource. Its place in juvenile, rather than general, literature has more to do with the reading level and strong use of picture and illustration than the quality or content of the book. There's an old farm saying that applies very well to this book - If you feed the lambs, the sheep will eat.

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul consists of a series of two page spreads on topics related to the four major periods in the history of Istanbul � Byzantium, Constantinople, The Ottoman Empire, and Modern Istanbul. The book is lavishly and thoughtfully illustrated. Approximately every other topic is illustrated with period drawings and art that exemplify the points in the text. The remaining topics are illustrated with annotated drawings and maps that further clarify the text. When the book reaches modern time, it switches to using primarily photos to underline the points in the text. The book also highlights quotes from writers and commentators of the time This design is very effective in giving a view of what the city looked like to the people in a given time period, while explaining how they lived and the key issues in their lives.

This book is a good introductory history, not just to Istanbul, but of the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires and modern Turkish state of which it was not just a part, but in most cases the capital. In addition, the art, quotes and fun tidbits, such as the origin of the term Iconoclast, make this book a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic. I think it would be a particularly good book for home schoolers. With it's beautiful art, Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul would also make a great coffee table book and its format makes it easier to understand the context of the art than many traditional coffee table books. I really enjoyed reading Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul and look forward to acquainting myself with other titles in this series.

Baytor, Robert. Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul. Cities through Time. Ills. Chris Rothero. Minneapolis, Minn.: Runestone Press, 2000.

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Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Istanbul is the April 2007 Middle Eastern Culture Book Club title.
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