A Byzantine Journey

John Ash, Author
John Ash, Author Random House Inc $25 (330p) ISBN 978-0-679-40934-2
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Shuttling between Roman times and 1453, when Ottoman warlord Mehemet the Conqueror captured Constantinople, destroying the Byzantine Empire, this delightful travel memoir links episodes from Byzantine history to British-born poet Ash's impressions of the villages, mosques, palaces, shrines and ruins he visited across Anatolia. Ash, who lives in New York City, follows the path of the First Crusade, tours well-preserved medieval cities and explores exotic sites like the frescoed cave-monasteries of Cappadocia and Binbir Kilise (the Thousand and One Churches) rising from the Black Mountains' slopes. His lyrical mosaic conjures up forceful personalities: the Armenian-born usurper Romanos I (Theophylact the Unbearable), who was kidnapped and deposed by his two power-hungry sons in A.D. 944; Rumi, the 13th-century mystic and poet; and Beyazid I, a fratricidal murderer who committed suicide in 1403 rather than endure further humiliations as the prisoner of Mongol conqueror Timur. Photos. (June)
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