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Private View: A Tribute To The Late Author John Freely

Andrew Finkel pays tribute to his friend and inspiration, the late John Freely, author of the definitive guide, ‘Strolling Through Istanbul’. Ever curious, always surprising, his gargantuan appetite for life made him so much more than the sum of his 65 books.

  • Forever the traveller: at the age of 17 John Freely joined the Navy and ended up in China.

If it was Harry Truman who famously decided that “the buck stops here” then we had John Freely, physicist, historian, traveller, author and joyful companion, to remind us that the buck had to start somewhere and that he had it on the best authority (and thereby hung an engaging but not-so-simple tale) where that somewhere was. John’s novelist daughter Maureen once confessed to the frustration of how to begin a story set in Istanbul, a city where not even the past stands still. The place you thought you should start was never the place you actually started – and then umpteen drafts later you found yourself starting from somewhere different again. Of course, the easier solution would have been to ask John.

For my generation, it was John Freely – not the Milestone by the Hippodrome – who stood at the epicentre of Istanbul. Strolling Through Istanbul, the 1972 guidebook that he co-authored with his fellow Robert College professor Hilary Sumner-Boyd, described exactly where to begin the adventure. Page one, chapter one plonks us on the Galata Bridge facing the Golden Horn and the historical skyline. At a glance, we appreciated the intimacy that the city has with the sea and how topography and geography shaped Istanbul’s character.

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Issue 56, October 2017 Brave Old World
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Other Highlights from Cornucopia 56
  • Turkey’s Wine Renaissance

    After a road trip like no other, taking in many of the best of Turkey’s burgeoning wineries, Kevin Gould and the Cornucopia tasting panel raise a glass (or several) and recommend the best of an impressive bunch

  • A Life in Tents

    Peter Alford Andrews and his late wife, Mügül, set out to catalogue the traditional yurt – the ultimate portable dwelling. It became their life’s work.

  • Good Vibrations

    An exciting new spirit of creativity is flourishing in Yeldeğirmeni – once a place of windmills and construction workers. But will this vibrant neighbourhood of Kadiköy be able to maintain its delicate balance of old and new? Katie Nadworny reports. Photographs by Monica Fritz

  • The City of a Thousand and One Churches

    Today a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, a thousand years ago Ani was a bustling commercial city where East and West converged. By Robert Ousterhout. Photographs by Brian McKee

  • Aphrodite’s City

    No wonder Aphrodisias was the Emperor Augustus’s favourite city in Asia. Famed for its exquisite sculpture and unsullied surroundings, for Patricia Daunt it is the most beautiful site in the classical world

  • Jam Tomorrow

    In a chilly spring the apricot trees of Cappadocia were frothing with white blossom. By early summer the boughs would be heavy with fruit, to be eaten fresh from the branch, dried in the sun – or made into conserves like bottled sunshine for the cold winter months.

Buy the issue
Issue 56, October 2017 Brave Old World
£12.00 / $15.25 / 498.57 TL
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