Istanbul, Constantinople, al-Āsitāna, Qustantiniya, Tsarigrad, Mucklegarth – Bolis – the city on the Bosphorus, the largest city in Turkey, means many things to many people. For most of its life its geographical position, as a port bestriding two continents, has made it an international and cosmopolitan city.

‘I do not advise you to go to Ankara to teach Mathematics,’ the University Careers Adviser told me. ‘You have a promising academic future, and could make something of Whig history.

In the 1890s a twenty-year-old Englishman was in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. He had been travelling for a year in Palestine and Syria and was deeply affected by all he saw. He told an elderly official of the mosque that he wanted to embrace Islam. The old man advised against such a move.

As I read and reread this last work I became increasingly irritated by it until I finally threw my copy at the wall in exasperation. I have since bought another copy with an introduction to the third edition which is revealing and, I think, justifies my disillusion.