In 1998 Alex Webb visited Istanbul and was immediately enthralled by its people, history, and the richness of its street life, especially the sense of Istanbul as a border city between East and West, Europe and Asia, the only major city in the world that actually exists on two continents. He has returned whenever possible, and the resulting work conveys the frisson of a culture in transition, yet firmly rooted in history. Founded by the Greeks some twenty-seven centuries ago, this much-fought-over trading center has been the capital of two of history’s most powerful empires—the Byzantine and the Ottoman—and now stands as the largest city of one of the world’s few secular Muslim nations, which hopes to enter the European Union. In Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names, Webb’s uses his ability to distill gesture, color, and contrasting cultural tensions into a single, beguiling frame to full effect in presenting his vision of Istanbul: a city of minarets and pigeons rising to the heavens during the dawn call to prayer, yet also a city of ATM machines and designer jeans.

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