JASON GOODWIN is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Investigator Yashim series. The first five books--The Janissary Tree, The Snake Stone, The Bellini Card, An Evil Eye, and The Baklava Club--have been published to international acclaim, alongside Yashim Cooks Istanbul, a cookbook of Ottoman Turkish recipes inspired by the series. Goodwin studied Byzantine history at Cambridge and is the author of Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire, among other award-winning nonfiction. He lives with his wife and children in England.
British travel writer Goodwin, whose previous books include A Time for Tea (1991. o.p.) and On Foot to the Golden Horn (1995. o.p.), explores the long and tumultuous history of the Ottoman Empire, examining the political upheavals and military actions that continually engaged the empire. Goodwin also reveals many fascinating details of daily life: e.g., common people would insert waste paper into the cracks of walls, believing the paper would protect their feet on the fiery path to heaven. The most absorbing chapter concerns the defeat of the Ottomans in Vienna in 1683, presenting in lively style the events leading up to that crucial battle. This volume is comparable to Andrew Wheatcroft's The Ottomans (LJ 4/15/94) and belongs in academic and larger public libraries.ÄNorman Malwitz, Queens Borough P.L., NY
In this elegant work, British author Goodwin (On Foot to the Golden Horn) combines deft historical summary with the buoyant prose and idiosyncratic focus of the best travel writing. The combination enables him to take the full measure of a realm riddled with paradox. The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish empire most of whose shock troops were Balkan Slavs; a bellicose state that expanded by war, it often governed its conquests with a light handÄa necessary approach given the many cultures and nationalities that fell under Ottoman rule. Ottoman society at its best was civilized and tolerant, observes Goodwin. The Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 were warmly received in Salonika, Constantinople, Belgrade and Sofia. While war and superstition ruled Christian Europe, the Islamic Ottoman Empire thrived and glittered with mathematical, architectural and artistic accomplishment. Goodwin is marvelous at describing how, for three hundred years before its final collapse after WWI, the empire survived even though it was perpetually on the verge of collapse. He attributes the calcified empire's decline not only to corruption and the rise of France and Russia but to the Turks' prideful ignorance of the West, a vanity that eventually deprived the empire of the fruits of modernity. As good as Goodwin is at blending political, cultural and military affairs, his work is distinguished by stylish writing and a sharp eye for just the right anecdote. His epilogue, which is built around the fate of the empire's famous stray dogs, is at once amusing and strangely, beautifully moving. Illustrations. (Apr.)
"A work of dazzling beauty...the rare coming together of historical scholarship and curiosity about distant places with luminous writing." --The New York Times Book Review"A meditation on a vanished world that hovers like an apparition over today's grim headlines." --The New York Times Book Review"Jason Goodwin's deftly written and beguiling history of the Ottoman Empire is particularly pertinent today, when the cauldron of ancient hatred once more boils over, but his prose would be welcome at any time." --The Boston Globe"May be read with pleasure and profit by everyone, not least the traveler headed east of Vienna and west of Baghdad." --The Wall Street Journal"A delightfully picaresque history, brimming with memorable anecdotes and outrageous personalities." --Kirkus Reviews