John Freely, a "historian of science and inveterate traveller who... showed how much modern science and indeed modern thought in the west owes to ideas forged in the eastern past," died April 20, the Guardian reported. He was 90. Although born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Istanbul "was the locus of his life and his work; and John's travel book Strolling Through Istanbul (1973, with Hilary Sumner-Boyd), has established itself as a classic. As a guide to the city, John was peerless; it is doubtful whether any westerner in the late 20th century had a better understanding of it than he," the Guardian wrote.
Freely's other books include Before Galileo, Light from the East, Aladdin's Lamp, The Grand Turk, Storm on Horseback and Jem Sultan. His life in Istanbul during the 1960s, which "was both scholarly and hedonistic," was later dramatized by his daughter Maureen Freely in her novels The Life of the Party and Sailing Through Byzantium.