Readlist: The Janissary Tree

Dear Friends and Readers,

In Highschool I was fashinated by the Ottoman Empire, but sadly the history curriculum focussed on it very brifly, just to explain how the Roman Empire ended and why.  The intrigues of the harem and “end of an era” decadence were left out and so was the culture and social turmoil of the Golden Horn.  After Highschool the Ottoman Empire’s spell was put on the back burner while embarked in my adventures in Law School and then the legal profession, only to return when I first opened The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin.The story takes place in 1836, when the Ottoman Empire is undergoing the last wave of severe changes due to its opening to European culture.  It is not just the clothing, this time: the sultan Mahmud II has big changes in mind… and it all started with the disappearance of the Janissaries, the Sultan’s praetorian guards ten years before.  When the Sultan’s new guards and people in the harem are murdered the Valide (the Sultan’s mother and head of the harem) calls her most trusted advisor, Yashim, a eunuch.

I love a good detective story and if it takes place in the past, my inner history buff is really happy.  You might think that a eunuch detective sounds a bit odd.  The social explanation of a cruel practice along with the psicological scars are what makes this book and the others of the series really impressive.  If you trust me you will be glued to the page or the screen of your kindle from cover to cover.  Historian Jason Goodwin describes the mechanics of the harem, the social structure and crafts a real page turner.  One word of warning: this book will make you want to visit Turkey next summer just to see “La Grand Rue de Pera” or Beyoglu where Yashim lives, Sultanhament and the Golden Horn. Ciao!