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Hardcover Everyday life in Ottoman Turkey Book

ISBN: 0713416874

ISBN13: 9780713416879

Everyday life in Ottoman Turkey

(Part of the Everyday Life Series)

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

*Best Available: (missing dust jacket)

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A Rich And Charming Portrait Brimming With Colour

The Turkish empire covered a vast area. At its height, it would ranged from the Danube to Euphrates, ringed both the Black Sea and the Medditeranean. Its people covered many races and religions. The portrait painted by Lewis would cover a very broad canvas indeed, and she wisely concentrates on the Ottoman culture and on Istanbul. Within these limits, she covers a range of topics and the book is divided into 9 main sections. She starts with a brief rundown of the history of the Ottoman Empire. The broad structure of Ottoman government, religion, superstition, the city of Istanbul, family life, festivals, and working life are all described. The last two sections describe life in Anatolia and the provinces. The book also has numerous plates of painted scenes of Istanbul and pen line drawings. Lewis' book is like one of Brugel's paintings of large crowd scenes where each person is painted as an individual portrait, and every square inch teems with detail. In between the broad descriptive brush strokes, she interweaves telling and charming details. For example, in her chapter on life in Istanbul, she discusses its districts, markets, mosques, water distribution systems, and river transport. She also describes the importance of water in Ottoman life, the cries of sellers of sherbert making their rounds in the city, the operations of the slave market, market operating hours, policing and fire watch duties. An imagined scene of an itinerant coffee-seller setting up shop under a flowering tree, and spontaneously gathering around him, a sherbert-seller, boys selling sweet-meats and other itinerant salesmen fills out this picture. The only cautionary note I would sound for persons looking for a serious or academic historical treatment is not to look here. This is not an anthropological text, and Lewis does not pretend to provide this. Persons looking for such a treatment should look elsewhere. What Lewis does provide, however, is rich lively description, jam packed with information. Its the kind of book you read once, and want to bring with you on a trip to Istanbul, to bring the past to life, and to dip into time and again, to draw up a shining jewelled minature portrait of an aspect of Ottoman life.
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