Traveling to Istanbul (II)the Harem and other delights
Whenever I want to learn about someplace, or some different time, I usually go the mystery route--find some good mysteries about whatever I want to know about, and read them. Sometimes this is more a happy accident than by design. Such was the case with Jason Goodwin's series about Istanbul in the 1830s, with their protagonist Yashim the eunuch. I picked the first one up one day, and have been hooked ever since. There are four now, all excellent. And one reason theyre excellent is what you learn about the place and the timein the 1830s, the Ottoman Empire was under intense pressure from both the North, in the form of Russia, and the south, in the form of Egypt. Theres lots of politics, since Yashim essentially functions as an intelligence operative for the Palace. And a lot of the Palace politics gets clarified and elucidated by Yashims visits to the Harem. Well, hes a eunuch (from particularly tragic circumstances), rememberhe can go there.
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