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From Legends to History: Turkey's Legacy of Civilizations and Culture

Program Number: 12828RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/1/2013 - 5/17/2013; 4/6/2016 - 4/22/2016; 5/4/2016 - 5/20/2016; 9/28/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/12/2016 - 10/28/2016; 11/2/2016 - 11/18/2016;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Turkey
Price starting at: $4,572.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 44; 15 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 15 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt    

From Roman ruins and Byzantine mosaics, Turkey’s history spans three continents and more than 10,000 years. Expert instructors leading select excursions survey Anatolia and Asia Minor — the ancient lands of Turkey — to trace the numerous civilizations that have thrived here since the Bronze Age. Gain an overview of Turkey’s rich legacy of civilizations and culture, comparing and contrasting the old world with the vibrancy of today.


• A local artisan in Avanos teaches ceramic hand arts.
• Visit the underground city in Cappadocia, complete with ventilation and communication systems.
• Examine the exquisitely wrought biblical mosaics in Istanbul’s Byzantine Kariye Mosque.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to three miles a day. Uneven terrain at ancient sites.

Date Specific Information

5-1-2013, 4-6-2016, 5-4-2016, 9-28-2016, 10-12-2016, 11-2-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Ankara, 2 nights; coach to Cappadocia/Avanos, 3 nights; coach to Konya, 1 night; coach to Antalya, 2 nights; coach to Pamukkale, 1 night; coach to Kusadasi, 2 nights; coach to Canakkale, 1 night; coach to Istanbul, 3 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Ankara
2 nights

Begin with an expert lecture on the Hittites, a culture that thrived in this region during the 14th-century B.C. The Hittites were pioneers of ironworks and used a pictographic language, some of which is displayed at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. A marvel itself, the museum is housed on the south side of Ankara Castle in former Ottoman bazaar buildings.

Coach to Cappadocia
3 nights

This one-time center of Hittite power served another purpose in later centuries when early Christian communities took refuge from persecution during the Byzantine era. Venture among the 300 Byzantine chapels built in the rock formations, as well as to the fascinating underground city of Ozkonak north of Avanos.

Coach to Konya
1 night
Coach to Antalya
2 nights

Visit the tomb of Jalal ad-Din "Rumi," the 13th-century Persian poet and theologian whose modern followers, known as the Whirling Dervishes, perform Sufi worship through dancing and singing. Delve further into history in the ancient city ruins of Perge, built in 1,000 B.C. by Greeks from Northern Anatolia, a region of Turkey also known as Asia Minor. The city thrived under Roman rule during the second-century B.C., from which most of the ruins date.

Coach to Pamukkale
1 night
Coach to Kusadasi
2 nights

Pamukkale, or “white castle” in Turkish, is a geothermal feature of terraced hot springs in southwest Turkey. The ancient city of Hierapolis was constructed atop the springs and many ruins remain. Discover the ruins of Ephesus, the ancient Ionian city near Kusadasi, which during its heyday in A.D. 100 was home to a half-million residents.

Coach via Troy to Canakkale
1 night
Coach via Gallipoli to Istanbul
3 nights

Examine the legendary Troy, immortalized in Homer’s The Iliad. In Istanbul, discuss life in modern Turkey and explore landmarks including Hagia Sophia, once Christendom’s greatest church, and Topkapi Palace, former home of the Sultans.


Turkey is bracketed by seas on three sides, which has facilitated its status as a crossroads of different civilizations for tens of thousands of years. It is modernizing rapidly, but its past is everywhere apparent. It is a country where centuries-old mosques and castles blend with modern streets and buildings to create a unique blend of past and present, European and Oriental influences.

Ankara: 4-star hotel in center of city. Cappadocia: Four-star hotel. Konya: 4-star hotel in central neighborhood. Antalya: Five-star hotel with beach. Pamukkale: Five-star hotel with thermal baths. Kusadasi: Five-star seaside hotel. Canakkale: Four-star hotel on the Dardanelles Strait. Istanbul: Boutique hotel along the ancient walls of Constantinople.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Zeynep Kuban

Dr. Zeynep Kuban is an assistant professor of architecture at Istanbul Technical University, one of the most prominent educational institutions in Turkey. Her special area of interest is architectural history. Dr. Kuban’s lectures to Road Scholar participants share her wonderful insights on the creation of one of the world’s most architecturally fascinating cities from early Roman times to the 21st century.
Gul Isin

Born in 1967 in Ankara, Mrs. Isin studied classical archaeology in Ankara at both the undergraduate and graduate level. She earned her doctorate from Akdeniz University in Antalya, where she is currently a member of the faculty. She specializes in the ancient sites near Antalya and still digs at various Greek and Roman sites in the region.
Adrian Saunders

Adrian Saunders teaches archaeology and art history at Koc University in Istanbul. Previously, he taught Latin and Greek language and literature in the United Kingdom and Egypt. He works on a range of epigraphic and textual material, exploring ways of using it to teach ancient languages to students. He has translated several ancient dramas for performance and has been working on a translation of archaic lyric poetry.
Meals and Lodgings
   Double Tree Hilton Ankara
  Ankara, Turkey 2 nights
   Kapadokya Lodge
  Cappadocia, Turkey 3 nights
   Hilton Garden Inn Konya
  Konya, Turkey 1 night
   Rixos Downtown Antalya
  Antalya, Turkey 2 nights
   Colossae Thermal Hotel
  Pamukkale, Turkey 1 night
   Korumar Hotel
  Kusadasi, Turkey 2 nights
   Tusan Hotel
  Canakkale, Turkey 1 night
   Armada Hotel Istanbul
  Istanbul, Turkey 3 nights
 Double Tree Hilton Ankara
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel is located on walking distance to the central commercial and business district of Ankara. "Ulus" the old city centre, museums, the popular entertainment district are also within easy reach of the hotel. The hotel is located across the nice view park.
  Contact info: Ziya Gokalp Bulvari No: 58
Ankara,   Turkey
phone: + 4-44 -3829
  Facility amenities: Warm welcome with the signature of DoubleTree Chocolate chip Cookie at Check in Neutrogena Bath Amenities 5 Meeting Room, 1 Ballroom High speed internet access (Wireless Internet) Business Center Spa & Wellness Center Roxanne Restaurant & Bar, Park Restaurant & Lounge, Cafe Del Habanos
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Please contact Baltac Tours. Prices depend on season and availability. For your inquiries please contact with Baltac Tours;

 Kapadokya Lodge
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Special architecture blending in with landscape.
  Contact info: PK 48 50200 Nevsehir
Nevsehir,  50200 Turkey
phone: +90 384 213 99 45
  Room amenities: Minibar, hair dryer, tv, direct dial telephone.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, snack bar, swimming pool, turkish bath, sauna, jacuzzi.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hilton Garden Inn Konya
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Konya hotel, is a modern business hotel designed in perfect harmony with the folklore and traditions of the Anatolian city of Konya and is located next to the Mevlana Culture Center and within walking distance of a range of shopping and business districts.
  Contact info: Aziziye Mahallesi, Kislaonu Sokak No:4
Konya,  42020 Turkey
phone: +0911 0332 221 60 00
  Room amenities: TV and complimentary wired and wireless internet access.
  Facility amenities: 24 hr Pavilion Pantry Market, Baggage Storage, Bar Area, Coin Laundry, Foreign Currency Exchange, Room Service, Safety Deposit Box.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Rixos Downtown Antalya
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Sakip Sabanci Bulvari
Konyaalti Sahili
Antalya,  07050 Turkey
phone: +90 242 249 49 49
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Colossae Thermal Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Thermal Hotel with indoor and outdoor pools. Spa and Beauty Center within the complex.
  Contact info: Karahayit Village
Denizli,   Turkey
phone: +90 258 2714156
  Room amenities: Minibar, direct dial telephone, hairdryer, A/C, balcony, satellite TV
  Smoking allowed: No

 Korumar Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Korumar Hotel enjoys an incredible location, overlooking the Aegean Sea. It is a five - star hotel, offerring all the amenities of a five-star hotel.
  Contact info: 2 Gazibegendi Bulvari
Aydin,   Turkey
phone: +011 90 256 618-1530
  Room amenities: A/C, Sat.TV, Minibar, Safe, 24 hr room service, haridryer.
  Facility amenities: Swimming Pool (indoor & outdoor), sauna, Turkish Bath, Fitness Center, restaurants, 24-hr room service, business center, etc
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Tusan Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Tusan is a 4 Star Hotel, situated within a pine forest, looking across the Dardanelles. It is a family run hotel with its private beach.
  Contact info: Guzelyali Mevkii
Canakkale,   Turkey
phone: +90 286 2328210
  Room amenities: Air Condition, T.V. Set, Mini bar, Hair Dryer, Balcony, Telephone, Private Bathroom, Sea and Forest views
  Facility amenities: Indoor and outdoor restaurant, English Pub, Swimming Pool, Meeting Room, Fitness Room, Billiards, Table Tennis, Private Beach, Parking, Laundry Service
  Smoking allowed: No

 Armada Hotel Istanbul
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Armada hotel is centrally located in the old city of Istanbul, on the city's historical peninsula. It is surrounded by the ancient city walls and is within walking distance and has views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii). Open since 1994, the building was constructed on the site of a series of row houses which were built for the marine soldiers of the famed Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha (Barbarossa) in the 16th century. The hotel's façade replicates the original structures.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Cad, 24
Istanbul,  34400 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
  Room amenities: 110 rooms, decorated in the Ottoman style with traditional Edirnekari woodwork painting, are a graceful blend of past and present and offer all modern amenities, including air conditioning, central heat, hair dryer, mini-bar, cable TV, direct-dial telephone, Internet connection and safety-deposit box.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, bars, rooftop terrace, room service and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Contact Prices are per room and include VAT and breakfast. Contact the Program Provider for reservations.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
6 PM, at the hotel lobby for Welcome Meeting You will be staying at Double Tree Hilton Ankara that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast at 10 AM. You will be staying at Armada Hotel Istanbul the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Passport valid for 6 months. VISA can be purchased at the Airport. It costs $20 in cash for US citizens and $60 in cash for Canada citizens.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Transfers will be provided except for program only participants.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Ankara
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Participants should look for the Road Scholar sign or their names on a sign board after clearing passport control and customs. Independent travelers may take a taxi directly to the hotel. Taxis are available outside the terminal and will cost around $50 USD to the hotel. Shuttle buses are available for all domestic and international aircraft landing at Ankara Airport, in front of the arrivals terminal. Ticket costs 10 TL ($6) per person, is payable on the bus in cash only and the trip lasts about 40 minutes.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Transportation from site: Group transfers from the hotel to airport in Istanbul, Turkey will be arranged for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and leave on the day the program ends. Independent travelers may take a taxi directly to the airport. Taxis can be arranged through the hotel desk and will cost around $30 USD to the airport. Taxis can comfortably take 3 people and luggage.
Elevation Note: Yes. Max Elevation roughly 3, 100 feet. No risks of lack of oxygen.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure
(Wednesday, May 1)
 Depart From: Fly to Turkey on an overnight flight.

Day 2: There will be one group transfer from the airport to the hotel.
(Thursday, May 2)
 Arrive To: Arrive to Ankara
 Dinner: In the hotel
 Evening: Welcome & introduction meeting at 6:00PM at the hotel
Accommodations: Double Tree Hilton Ankara
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Lecture in the morning on Hittite and Phyrigian Civilizations. Visit to Anatolian Civilizations Museum and Mausoleum of Ataturk. Hear a lecture on modern Turkey after dinner.
(Friday, May 3)

Note: Walking up to 1 mile during excursions

 Breakfast: In the hotel
 Morning: Lecture on Anatolian Civilizations with emphasis on Hittite & Phrygian history.
 Lunch: At the hotel
 Afternoon: Visit to the award-winning Anatolian Civilizations Museum to have a general overview about the civilizations of Turkey. Visit to the Mausoleum of Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey.
 Dinner: In the hotel
 Evening: Lecture on Modern Turkey and its contemporary issues.
Accommodations: Double Tree Hilton Ankara
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Visit Hattusas, the ancient capital of the Hittites.
(Saturday, May 4)

Note: Walking up to 1 mile on occasionally uneven terrain.

 Depart From: Depart from Ankara, coach to Cappadocia
 Breakfast: Before departure in the hotel
 Morning: Coach to Cappadocia
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Hattusas.
 Afternoon: On route to Cappadocia,visit Hattusas,the ancient capital of Hittites, and lecture on site
 Dinner: In hotel at Cappadocia
Accommodations: Kapadokya Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Visit Goreme Valley
(Sunday, May 5)

Note: Walking in uneven sometimes terrain, for up to 1 mile. Sturdy walking shoes recommended. Some caves/churches require crouching to enter

 Breakfast: In the hotel
 Morning: Field trip to Goreme & instruction on site
 Lunch: At a local restaurant carved out of rock
 Afternoon: Field trip to Ozkonak Underground City & visit to a local house with lecture on local life. Visit to pottery workshop to witness the 5,000 year old local handcraft.
 Dinner: In the hotel
Accommodations: Kapadokya Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Visit Love Valley and village of Sinasos.
(Monday, May 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Depart hotel for excursions in Cappadocia. Visit the local village of Sinasos.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Optional hike through the formations of Cappadoccia.
 Dinner: In hotel restaurant
 Evening: Field Trip to 13th century caravansaray to attend the Whirling Dervish ceremony.
Accommodations: Kapadokya Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Departure for Konya
(Tuesday, May 7)
 Depart From: Depart after breakfast
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Coach to Konya. Visit 13th century Seljuk Caravansaray on route
 Lunch: Lunchat a local restaurant in Konya
 Afternoon: Visit the Museum/Mausoleum of Mevlana Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervish sect of Islam. Discussion on Rumi and Sufism by a local Sufi.
 Dinner: In the hotel
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Konya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Visits to Aspendos & Perge ancient cities
(Wednesday, May 8)

Note: Walking at ancient sites up to ½ mile.

 Breakfast: In the hotel
 Morning: Coach transfer to Antalya
 Lunch: Lunch on route at a small village
 Afternoon: Field trip to Aspendos & Perge ancient cities & instruction on site
 Dinner: In hotel restaurant
Accommodations: Rixos Downtown Antalya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Field Trip to Antalya Museum & Lecture
(Thursday, May 9)
 Breakfast: Before departure in the hotel
 Morning: Visit Antalya Archeological Museum for a visit and hear a lecture by a local archeologist about the museum
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Antalya
 Afternoon: Free time in Antalya
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Rixos Downtown Antalya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Visit the ancient city of Hierapolis and natural calcium pools and travertines
(Friday, May 10)
 Depart From: Depart from Antalya,coach to Pamukkale
 Arrive To: Arrive to Pamukkale late afternoon
 Breakfast: Before departure in the hotel
 Morning: Depart Antalya by coach to Pamukkale
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant on route
 Afternoon: Arrive in Pamukkale and visit the ancient city of Hierapolis and natural calcium pools and travertines
 Dinner: In the hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Colossae Thermal Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Aphrodisias, city of Aphrodite famous for its marble sculptures
(Saturday, May 11)

Note: Uneven terrain at the ancient site of Aphrodisias.

 Breakfast: In the hotel
 Morning: Depart Pamukkale by coach to Kusadasi Excursion - Aphrodisias, city of Aphrodite famous for its marble sculptures
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant near the ruins
 Afternoon: Arrive in Kusadasi
 Dinner: In the hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Korumar Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Lecture on Graffiti at Ephesus. Excursion to Ephesus ancient city
(Sunday, May 12)

Note: Walking up to 2 miles on the ancient streets of Ephesus

 Breakfast: In the hotel
 Morning: Lecture on graffiti of Ephesus. Free time at the weekly market of Selcuk.
 Lunch: Lunch at the handcrafts center
 Afternoon: Visit the ancient city of Ephesus and the Museum of Ephesus in Selcuk. Stop at the Temple of Artemis on the way back to the hotel
 Dinner: In the hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Korumar Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Visit Troy ancient city
(Monday, May 13)
 Depart From: Depart from Kusadasi,coach to Canakkale
 Arrive To: Arrive to Canakkale at lunch time
 Breakfast: Before departure in the hotel
 Morning: Coach to Canakkale
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in a small town on the Aegean Sea.
 Afternoon: Field trip to Troy ancient city & lecture on site
 Dinner: In hotel restaurant
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Tusan Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Gallipoli National Park, Anzac Cove, WW1 Battlefields.
(Tuesday, May 14)
 Depart From: Depart from Canakkale, coach to Istanbul
 Arrive To: Arrive to Istanbul at dinner time
 Breakfast: Before departure in the hotel
 Morning: Coach to Gallipoli National Park. Field trip to Anzac Cove to witness the tragic campaign launched by the Allied Forces in WW1.
 Lunch: Lunch on route
 Afternoon: Continue by coach to Istanbul
 Dinner: In Istanbul hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Visit to Topkapi Palace Museum
(Wednesday, May 15)
 Breakfast: In the hotel
 Morning: Lecture on Byzantine History & Art and Ottoman Architecture
 Lunch: In a city restaurant
 Afternoon: Visit to Topkapi Palace Museum,Blue Mosque, Underground Cisterns & St.Sophia
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Private cruise on the Bosphorus
(Thursday, May 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Visit Kariye (Chora) Museum to see its wonderful mosaics and Rustem Pasha Mosque nearby to witness its exquisite tiles
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Embark on a private cruise to see the wonderful Bosphorus and its lovely waterfront houses and palaces. Visit Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar, a maze of shops and alleys, an old shopping mall for bargains. Free time at the Bazaars.
 Dinner: Farewell Meeting and Dinner at the Hotel
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Departures
(Friday, May 17)
 Depart From: Depart from Istanbul for return to USA.
 Breakfast: In the hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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Istanbul: Memories and the City

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Description: Turkish novelist Pamuk (Snow) presents a breathtaking portrait of a city, an elegy for a dead civilization and a meditation on life's complicated intimacies. The author, born in 1952 into a rapidly fading bourgeois family in Istanbul, spins a masterful tale, moving from his fractured extended family, all living in a communal apartment building, out into the city and encompassing the entire Ottoman Empire. Pamuk sees the slow collapse of the once powerful empire hanging like a pall over the city and its citizens. Central to many Istanbul residents' character is the concept of hüzün (melancholy). Istanbul's hüzün, Pamuk writes, "is a way of looking at life that... is ultimately as life affirming as it is negating." His world apparently in permanent decline, Pamuk revels in the darkness and decay manifest around him. He minutely describes horrific accidents on the Bosphorus Strait and his own recurring fantasies of murder and mayhem. Throughout, Pamuk details the breakdown of his family: elders die, his parents fight and grow apart, and he must find his way in the world. This is a powerful, sometimes disturbing literary journey through the soul of a great city told by one of its great writers.

My Name Is Red

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Description: A dead man, a dog, a murderer, a coin, two lovers, and a tree take turns narrating this tale, which is Pamuk's follow-up to the well-reviewed but little read The New Life (1997). Set in sixteenth-century Istanbul, the novel is equal parts mystery, love story, and a philosophical discussion on the nature of art and artistic vision. Two men have been killed: Elegant, a miniaturist engaged (with others) on a book project glorifying the life of the sultan, and Enishte, the man who hired the artists to do the book. During a trip to Venice, Enishte became particularly entranced with the new Italian painting, particularly its use of perspective and figurative art. He urged his employees to adapt the new art form in their illustrations of the grand book they are producing. Black, Enishte's nephew, wants to win the hand of Enishte's daughter, Shekure, which he can only do by solving the murders. This intellectual mystery will appeal to fans of Eco, Pears, and Perez-Reverte.

Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey

Author: Anastasia M. Ashman, Jennifer Eaton Gokmen

Description: As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations—artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others—who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the “Orient,” describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their world views.

The Bastard of Istanbul

Author: Elif Shafak

Description: In her second novel written in English (The Saint of Incipient Insanities was the first), Turkish novelist Shafak tackles Turkish national identity and the Armenian "question" in her signature style. In a novel that overflows with a kitchen sink's worth of zany characters, women are front and center: Asya Kazanci, an angst-ridden 19-year-old Istanbulite is the bastard of the title; her beautiful, rebellious mother, Zeliha (who intended to have an abortion), has raised Asya among three generations of complicated and colorful female relations (including religious clairvoyant Auntie Banu and bar-brawl widow, Auntie Cevriye). The Kazanci men either die young or take a permanent hike like Mustafa, Zeliha's beloved brother who immigrated to America years ago. Mustafa's Armenian-American stepdaughter, Armanoush, who grew up on her family's stories of the 1915 genocide, shows up in Istanbul looking for her roots and for vindication from her new Turkish family. The Kazanci women lament Armanoush's family's suffering, but have no sense of Turkish responsibility for it; Asya's boho cohorts insist there was no genocide at all. As the debate escalates, Mustafa arrives in Istanbul, and a long-hidden secret connecting the histories of the two families is revealed. Shafak was charged with "public denigration of Turkishness" when the novel was published in Turkey earlier this year (the charges were later dropped). She incorporates a political taboo into an entertaining and insightful ensemble novel, one that posits the universality of family, culture and coincidence.

The Turks Today

Author: Andrew Mango

Description: Istanbul-born, British-based Mango (Atatürk) offers an insightful, sympathetic portrait of recent Turkish history. The first third of the book discusses the growth of the Turkish state after Atatürk's death in 1938, with a fitful spread of democracy, clashes with Greece and the departure of Istanbul's Greek community. Economic and social conflict from 1960 to 1980 was subsequently "contained" by a military-driven constitution and rapprochement with Europe. A battle over the logo of the mayoralty of Ankara, the capital, illustrates the recent negotiations between Islamists and secularists. Istanbul, whose "infrastructure does not match its size," is growing as a regional base. In impoverished, traditionalist eastern Turkey, "the Third World has not been banished," though Mango argues that integration with the state—if not assimilation—is the best hope for the Kurdish minority. Turkey today, Mango suggests, resembles the late modernizing countries of southern Europe in many ways. He sees potential for a fully democratic and secular state, but warns that it takes time to "implant Western institutions in non-Western soil." Though this volume lacks some of the bite and immediacy of a journalist's book like Stephen Kinzer's Crescent and Star, it emerges as a more thorough introduction to a less-known but increasingly vital country.

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