Private View, Issue 56

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

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.