Istanbul : city of majesty at the crossroads of the world / Thomas F. Madden

Istanbul is a history of the city from its founding as Byzantium, then as Constantinople, and finally as Istanbul.  It was the eastern capital of the Roman empire, and the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.  It sits on the Bosphorus, a little strait that connects the Black Sea ultimately with the Mediterranean Sea (via the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles).   Istanbul’s fortifications ruled those waterways, and effectively controlled shipping from the Black Sea (including Russia and the Ukraine, plus Georgia, Romania, and Bulgaria on the other shores).  Istanbul’s forces mastered “Greek fire”, which allowed them to rain fire on their enemies, and literally burn up the surface of the sea.  Madden covers a large expanse of history, so he necessarily has edited things out I presume in the interest of space.  One thing Madden omitted that concerned me was the Armenian genocide.  He does mention the 1923 Greek-Turkish population exchange, in which ethic Greeks (whose families had been living in Turkey or its predecessors for millennia) were sent “home” to Greece and Turks in Greece were sent to Turkey, but he barely mentions the Armenians.  Other than that, I was fully absorbed by this history and look forward to more books by Thomas Madden.  Elaine 12/4/2017

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