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Istanbul Passage

Istanbul Passage

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
In the bestselling tradition of espionage novels by John LeCarre and Alan Furst, Istanbul Passage brilliantly illustrates why Edgar Award–winning author Joseph Kanon has been hailed as "the heir apparent to Graham Greene" (The Boston Globe).

Istanbul survived the Second World War as a magnet for refugees and spies. Even expatriate American Leon Bauer was drawn into this shadow world, doing undercover odd jobs in support of the Allied war effort. Now as the espionage community begins to pack up and an apprehensive city prepares for the grim realities of postwar life, Leon is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrong—an exchange of gunfire, a body left in the street, and a potential war criminal on his hands—Leon is trapped in a tangle of shifting loyalties and moral uncertainty.

Played out against the bazaars and mosques and faded mansions of this knowing, ancient Ottoman city, Istanbul Passage is the unforgettable story of a man swept up in the dawn of the Cold War, of an unexpected love affair, and of a city as deceptive as the calm surface waters of the Bosphorus that divides it.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439164822 | 
  • May 2012
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Video

A Tour of Istanbul with Joseph Kanon

Join bestselling author Joseph Kanon, on a tour of Istanbul to learn why it was called the City of Spies and find out more about his latest book, Istanbul Passage, a gripping tale of an American undercover agent in 1945 Istanbul.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Istanbul Passage was created in conjunction with The Literary Gallery Book Discussion Group. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. What do you think the book’s title, Istanbul Passage, means? Could it represent more than one thing? What different kinds of passages take place throughout the book? 2.There is a strong sense of place in the novel–Istanbul, the Bosphorus, Galata Bridge, Bebek. How does the author describe these places in order to create a mood of deception and intrigue? 3.What is your initial impression of Leon Bauer upon first meeting him? Does your opinion of him change by the end of the book? If so, what accounted for this change? 4.Leon Bauer’s wife, Anna, is in a semi-comatose state when the book opens, yet to Leon she remains “alive, a presence, not just someone in Obstbaum’s clinic who had retreated into herself.…” To what extent does Anna haunt this book? How much do we learn about who she was and what she did as the story unfolds? 5.Both Alexei and Georg play chess with themselves, “playing both sides.” The name “Bauer” means “pawn” in German. What does the game of chess co see more

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About the Author

Joseph Kanon
Photograph © Robin Straus

Joseph Kanon

Joseph Kanon is the Edgar Award–winning author of Istanbul Passage, Los Alamos, The Prodigal Spy, Alibi, Stardust, and The Good German,which was made into a major motion picture starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a book publishing executive. He lives in New York City.

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