Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: "Midnight at the Pera Palace" by Charles King

Title: Midnight at the Pera Palace
Author: Charles King
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Publish Date: September 15, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "At midnight, December 31, 1925, citizens of the newly proclaimed Turkish Republic celebrated the New Year. For the first time ever, they had agreed to use a nationally unified calendar and clock.

Yet in Istanbul—an ancient crossroads and Turkey's largest city—people were looking toward an uncertain future. Never purely Turkish, Istanbul was home to generations of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews, as well as Muslims. It welcomed White Russian nobles ousted by the Russian Revolution, Bolshevik assassins on the trail of the exiled Leon Trotsky, German professors, British diplomats, and American entrepreneurs—a multicultural panoply of performers and poets, do-gooders and ne’er-do-wells. During the Second World War, thousands of Jews fleeing occupied Europe found passage through Istanbul, some with the help of the future Pope John XXIII. At the Pera Palace, Istanbul's most luxurious hotel, so many spies mingled in the lobby that the manager posted a sign asking them to relinquish their seats to paying guests."

My Two Cents:

"Midnight at the Pera Palace" is a nonfiction account of some of the most earth shattering events during the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of Turkey as a nation-state. The titular Pera Palace is a massive hotel in the heart of Istanbul and it played the background to many of the events during this turbulent time. Before reading this book, I really didn't know whole lot about the events surrounding the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of Turkey so I was really interested to read this book and understand a little bit more about these events, which didn't only affect Turkey and the city of Istanbul but alos set in motion other events around the world.

This book is the latest release from noted historian Charles King. I have yet to read any of his other books but after reading this one, I know that I I definitely need to go back and read more of his books. I love historical nonfiction but sometimes it can be a little bit boring and you definitely need to be in a certain mood to sit down and really read through it and understand it. This is not the case with this book. King brings this time to life through a lot of great detail and some really interesting topics. Instead of simply covering a chronological order of what actually happened during the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the events after, King works in many different facets of life in Istanbul during the time and is able to include things like art and music. I loved this as a reader as it really brought the city of Istanbul during this time period to life.

All of the historical detail makes me want to hop a plane (and maybe a time machine too) to Istanbul right now. King makes it seem like such it interesting place, truly the crossroads of the world. If you're looking for a historical nonfiction book that will peak your interest in learning more about this monumental time period and you like rich historical detail, this book would be a great pick for you!


1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this book. I love Istanbul and i think this book will bring the time and the place to life. thanks.


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