Tucker, in his debut, delivers a lavishly researched, information-packed travel guide.
Tucker’s guide and Mark Twain’s classic travelogue The Innocents Abroad share few similarities apart from their titles, although both books aim to help American audiences better understand the Mediterranean region. In fact, this guide takes on a somewhat more complex topic than Twain’s, presenting a treasure trove of information on ancient sites in western Turkey. The book explores several famous regions of the ancient world, with particular emphasis on Ionia, Caria, Lycia and the former area of Constantinople (now Istanbul). The author stuffs each entry with data, including GPS coordinates, copious black-and-white location photos, literary quotations, websites for further information, and more. Tucker not only tells readers where to find each site, but also puts each location in historical and cultural context. The author delves expertly into Greek, Roman, Egyptian and biblical chronicles to vividly illustrate the historical and mythological significance of each site, and it becomes clear why archaeologists, antiquarians and knowledgeable tourists continue to come to these places thousands of years later. For example, the entry on the ancient region of Troad explores the familiar legends of the Trojan War (the Iliad and the Odyssey) and the spectacular history of Alexander the Great, giving them an exciting immediacy. A chapter on Ionia evocatively addresses several famous locations in biblical scholarship and Roman history, including the city of Ephesus. For writers and armchair historians, the book helps clarify details of ancient times and places. However, the book occasionally uses awkward layouts and typography, and its visuals at times resemble PowerPoint presentations. That said, while the book may not be sleek and stylish, it has what it needs under the hood, as its fact-rich entries are clearly and crisply written.
An invaluable one-volume travel encyclopedia that will pique even casual readers’ curiosity.