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John Freely, author
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Biography: We were saddened to hear of the death of John Freely, in April 2017. John was born in Brooklyn in 1926. He joined the US Navy at the age of 17 and saw active service in WWII. After the war, he received a PhD in Physics from New York University. He first went to Istanbul in 1960 to teach Physics at the old Robert College, now Boğaziçi University. His first book was Strolling Through Istanbul (1972), which he wrote with Hilary Sumner-Boyd. It became the basis for Blue Guide Istanbul, first published in 1983. During his long life, John Freely wrote a total of some 50 books. I first met him in 2010, when the 6th edition of Blue Guide Istanbul was in preparation. He was a person of great enthusiasm, with an elastic energy, perpetually curious about places and people, and he had a great knack for making complete strangers feel at ease in each other’s company. I have fond memories of an impromptu evening spent with him and a group of others in his rooms at Boğaziçi University, with his wife Dolores rushing around making beds because more people were expected for the night, seemingly completely unfazed by it all, deftly keeping food, wine and conversation flowing. John was generous with himself and with his books—he lent me two, from a study that overflowed with them—and like many generous people, he expected a similar generosity from others.

Istanbul has had many incarnations in its long history. The city that John Freely first saw in 1960 was very different from the one he left in 2017. If he were in his study now, he would perhaps be writing a book about it.

Photograph: Consulting Blue Guide Istanbul in the early 1980s.

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"At home we are content to move in the daily round of pleasure and business ... but in a foreign country curiosity is our business and our pleasure; and the traveller, conscious of his ignorance and covetous of his time, is diligent in the search and the view of every object that can deserve his attention." Edward Gibbon 1737-1794