Rough Guide pounds 12.99
IF YOU really want to understand Turkey, this guide is excellent. It's something of a hybrid: its lists of cheap hotels and restaurants are a competitor to the Lonely Planet, but they sit side by side with intelligent, well-written essays on Turkish culture and politics. One of the few guides not to sidestep the Kurdish problem with a few blithe generalisations, it has a proper analysis section. Turkish media, music and cinema write- ups are excellent and up to date. It details some obscure sites in the western regions, especially in European Turkey, which most guides ignore apart from Istanbul and Gallipoli. Sadly, in the less-travelled east it falls back on the obvious.
THIS IS the only guide that will help if you find yourself in front of an obscure Ottoman bridge in the middle of the countryside and want to know more. It offers a vast amount of recherche information on history, art and architecture. But, unless you're already interested, its dry, academic style won't fill you with a burning desire to rush off to Turkey: the description of Ephesus, one of the world's most spectacular preserved ancient Greek cities, opens: "At least one day is needed for Ephesus, as the ruins are extensive and widely scattered." It doesn't get any more riveting. But for all the scholarship, the maps are awful. It hardly bothers with practical information like hotels and restaurants.
THESE GUIDES remain as inexplicably popular as ever. This one is particularly irritating, written in a patronising style that simplifies everything. The descriptions of monuments can be downright misleading. It congratulates the Turks on their "restoration" of Istanbul's land walls, a treasure which was ruined by the restorers. The maps are accurate, and the hotels and travel information reliable - though the guide's commitment to cheap travel leads to advice which should be taken with a pinch of salt. Turkish long-distance bus journeys are hell, but the guide makes them …