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Historian and former Moscow and Istanbul Bureau Chief for Newsweek, Owen Matthews has lectured on Russian history and politics at Columbia University’s Harriman Centre, St Antony’s College Oxford, the Journalism Faculty of Moscow State University, and at Kuban University. His books include Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love and War (2008), a memoir of three generations of his family in Russia; Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of Russian America (2013); and Thinking with the Blood based on a journey across war-torn Ukraine in the late summer of 2014. ‘Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine’ (Mudlark, 2022), won the Pushkin House Book Prize. He lives in Rome with his artist wife Xenia Kravchenko.
Rome and Istanbul have striking similarities: both are imperial cities, capitals of the Roman Empire, where history blends with chaotic modernity. But their differences are equally intriguing, says Owen Matthews
Owen Matthews reviews Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light, by Caroline Eden (Quadrille, £25)
Abandoned in Greece at the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks of Thrace cling defiantly to their old ways. By Owen Matthews. Photographs by Ashley Gilbertson
Since he became enchanted by the ‘Big Island’ 15 years ago, Owen Matthews has enjoyed its seasonal changes and watched its popularity grow – not least among soap-opera fans
The final leg of Cornucopia’s four-part progress through Istanbul covers the archipelago in the Sea of Marmara, just a dozen miles across the water from the domes of Ayasofya but a world away. Owen Matthews finds solace in the peace that returns when the tide of summer day trippers recedes and each island once more becomes its own treasured world.
Photographs: Monica Fritz and Brian McKee
Built as way stations for Orthodox pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land or Mount Athos, the rooftop churches of Karaköy are a forgotten corner of the Motherland in the heart of Istanbul. By Owen Matthews. Photographs by Simon Wheeler
Beside the Sea of Marmara, away from the fever and fret of the city, Rıfat Edin has created his own paradise, a garden of delights to share with boat-lovers. Owen Matthews tastes its eccentric charms. Photographs by Solvi dos Santos and Berrin Torolsan
Once it was the hub of commercial life, its shores lined with bustling quays and the biggest concentration of mosques, churches and synagogues in the city. Now the tide has turned on this famous Bosphorus inlet, and it has become a backwater. Owen Matthews wanders around the Golden Horn’s heady past with John Freely, the man who made strolling through the city an art
Under the Ottomans, Kirkuk’s ancient citadel was the heart of a thriving cosmopolitan city. But politics and oil have reduced it to a deserted ruin. Owen Matthews, who has been covering northern Iraq for several years, visited Kirkuk at the end of the recent war. Photographs by Ashley Gilbertson
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