On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul

 
9780141006772: On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul

This is the story of Jason Goodwin's trek through Eastern Europe, from the dykes and marshes of Poland's Baltic coast across to the Golden Horn in Istanbul. In the company of two friends he traversed some of the most beautiful and tragic places in the world - this book tells of them and of the varied characters to be met there.

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Review:

Though classified as a travel book, On Foot to the Golden Horn could just as easily fall under history. Don't roll your eyes: it is the story of an incredible voyage, full of encounters with fascinating people and landscapes. But its backdrop is one of the most important historical moments of the late 20th century--Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 1990s. Goodwin's motives initially had nothing to do with this moment: fascinated by the history of Istanbul, he vows to reach the place as a visitor would have during its Byzantine heyday--on foot. As a result, he and his friends find themselves tramping through Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria as the Iron Curtain falls all around them.

Goodwin's arduous journey proves an excellent allegory for the struggles these nations faced as the Eastern bloc crumbled, the combination of backbreaking hardship and a faint glimmer of hope, almost impossibly far off in the distance. As a result, Goodwin is able to seamlessly fuse the rich and checkered past of the lands around him to the tales of his own struggle towards the Istanbul of his imagination. The result is an experience that would be impossible to duplicate. Since his visit, eastern Europe has undergone sweeping changes; we will never have the chance to visit the lands that he saw. But thanks to Goodwin's skill and diligence, we have the next best thing. --Andrew Nieland

About the Author:

Jason Goodwin is a historian, journalist and travel writer. He is the author of THE GUNPOWDER GARDENS: TRAVELS THROUGH INDIA AND CHINA IN SEARCH OF TEA and LORDS OF THE HORIZON: A HISTORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE. GREENBACK, his history of the American dollar, is being published by Hamish Hamilton in February 2003.

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