Legend has it that the Ionian Islands were created as Zeus’ beautiful lover, Io, raced through the Ionian Sea escaping Hera’s wrath. Rising from the waters between Greece and Italy, the Ionians – peaks of an underwater mountain range – are quite unlike any of the other Greek islands and are some of the most culturally, historically and mythologically rich in all Greece. Consisting of Corfu, Paxos, Ithaka, Lefkas, Cephalonia, Zakynthos (Zante) and Kythera, they have been inhabited since Paleolithic times and have a colourful and often turbulent past. Variously invaded and occupied by the Goths, Arabs, Normans, Venetians, British, Germans and most recently by tourism, they have always absorbed and assimilated other cultures whilst still retaining their unique character and identity.
The Ionians have been made famous in literature from Homer and Aeschylus to Gerald Durrell and Louis de Bernières and numerous myths are associated with them: Corfu is linked to the voyage of Jason’s Argonauts, Aphrodite was born on Kythera, Paxos and Corfu were once joined until Poseidon threw his trident and separated them and Odysseus’ home was on Ithaka. John Freely, who has visited and travelled throughout the islands over the course of 40 years, here illuminates the history, culture and present day of all seven islands, providing the most readable and comprehensive guide to the magnificent Ionians.
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John Freely (1926 - 2017) was born in New York and joined the US Navy at the age of seventeen, serving during the last two years of World War II. He had a PhD in physics from New York University and did post-doctoral studies in the history of science at Oxford. He was for many years professor of physics at Bosphorus University in Istanbul, where he taught physics and the history of science. He wrote more than forty books, including Light from the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam Helped Shape the Western World (I.B.Tauris, 2010), The Grand Turk, Storm on Horseback, Children of Achilles, The Cyclades,The Ionian Islands (all I.B.Tauris), Crete, The Western Shores of Turkey, Strolling through Athens, Strolling through Venice and the bestselling Strolling through Istanbul (all Tauris Parke Paperbacks).Review:
PRAISE FOR JOHN FREELY'S OTHER BOOKS
Strolling Through Athens
*A magnificent walking guide to the city...His knowledge is encyclopaedic...he brings the millenniums of history alive. If you want a cultural guide to the ancient city, this is the one for you.* Anthony Sattin, *Books of the Week*, Sunday Times
Strolling Through Istanbul
*...a classic. The best travel guide to Istanbul* The Times
The Western Shores of Turkey
*...Enchanting guide...a work of genuine scholarship, lightly worn and charmingly conveyed. I fell in love with the book and stayed enamoured until the final page.* Paul Bailey, The Sunday Times
“...the record of a journey undertaken by a man effortlessly able to convey in depth the meaning of what he sees.” Marlena Frick, Scotsman, Edinburgh
“A charming and informative companion for anyone exploring these enchanting islands.” Andrew Steed, Stanfords Maps and Travel Books
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