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It is a tribute to Harris's skill as a writer that his book produces in the reader a sense of loss. Wisely, Harris does not attempt to give us an exhaustive history of Constantinople; instead he concentrates on the city as it was in 1200 C.E. The year is not a random choice. In 1204, a Crusader army sacked the city, triggering its descent into depopulation and ruin. But the city that the Crusaders despoiled was unsurpassed in its splendor. For centuries, Roman emperors and courtiers underwrote grand projects, constructing magnificently adorned buildings. Harris describes the physical highlights of the city, and from there launches brief expositions into politics, religion, and trade. The layout and decor of the Byzantine imperial palace, for example, leads to an exploration of dynastic politics; an examination of religious beliefs follows a description of the city's churches. Harris concludes with a brief overview of Constantinople's last years as the Byzantine capital up to its fall to an Ottoman Turkish army in 1453. A readable, informative, and vivid book, offering an evocative picture of the city in the context of the culture that produced it. Highly recommended.