BOOKS

The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II-Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire

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I’d like to visit Istanbul and see the Golden Horn, the Haghia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace so I’m preparing by reading up on the Ottoman Empire, starting with the Terror of Europe, the Sultan Mehmet II, who ended the Byzantine Empire and Christian domination of the city by taking Constantinople in 1453, sparking three crusades aimed at restoring Christian rule of the city. An American scholar who has spent his life producing volume after volume on Turkey, its history and sights, John Freely knows his stuff and shares it, spinning a fascinating (if sometimes a little dry) story of a young Ottoman leader whose audacious goal was nothing short of first carving out an empire in the Anatolia, then converting Europe to Islam by fire and sword if necessary. He accomplished the first and came closer to the second than you might expect.
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What Karl's reading

After three years preparing The Triumph of William McKinley by reading very little but books, letters, articles and newspapers from the Gilded Age, I’m trying to get back into my regular routine, which I’ll chronicle here with an occasional review of what I’ve read.

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Not only does this volume have the best title of any book I’ve read in the past year, but it will keep you on the edge of your chair until you finish this tale.

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This is a riveting tale of brotherly love, tested in a time of global war.  The characters are vividly drawn, the action riveting and the suspense almost overwhelming. 

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My copy of PORTRAITS OF COURAGE arrived and I thumbed through it, expecting to take a quick look before adding it to my reading stack and getting to it in a few days.

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It is easy to forget that the greatest conflict in human history – World War II – was won mostly through the efforts of teenagers who made up the vast preponderance of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and merchant marines.


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