I bought the last edition of this book 15 years ago, when I was an expat teacher living in Istanbul. Some of my happiest memories of that time are of wandering through the back alleys of the city with this book, early on Saturday mornings before the bustle started. While there are plenty of badly-researched travel guides that give you (an often erroneous) overview, and lots of academic histories of the city big enough stop a truck, this book occupies a unique niche. This is a walking historical tour guide, written by two of the most enthusiastic and literate historians of the city, who actually have lived there most of their lives. Istanbul is not a "pretty" city, it is a chaotic mash-up of old and new, and a quick bus tour of the place may well leave you unmoved. But take a bit of time to learn the histories, the layers to this city, and it becomes an utterly magical, fascinating place. This book helps you do that.
I bought the new edition in anticipation of a trip this summer and revisiting some of those old walks, that the city has changed dramatically in the last decade, so a re-write is very welcome. This is not a book for a whirlwind two-day bus tour of the city. Like all worthwhile things, the book requires a bit of time and commitment (read at least parts of it before you go), a willingness to get off the beaten track and visit some out-of-the-way parts of the city, to risk getting lost now and again in ancient, unsigned streets. But, this is Istanbul, Constantinople, Byzantium - really, if you aren't willing to do that, why are you going at all?