John Freely

John Freely (born 1926) is an American physicist, teacher, and author of popular travel and history books on Istanbul, Athens, Venice, Turkey, Greece, and the Ottoman Empire. He is the father of writer and Turkish-to-English literary translator Maureen Freely.[1]


Freely was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up there and in Ireland. He dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 for the last two years of World War II, serving with a commando unit in Burma and China. He did his undergraduate work at the traditional American Catholic college, Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, under the G.I. Bill.

Academic life

Freely received his PhD in physics at New York University, and later pursued his postdoctoral studies at Oxford University under Alistair Cameron Crombie, the pioneering researcher in the history of Medieval European science. The principal idea he inherited from Crombie was "the continuity of western European science from the Dark Ages through Copernicus, Galileo and Newton". Following his postdoctoral work, he taught courses in history and astronomy at the Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey, including the course, "The Emergence of Modern Science, East and West".[2]

Since 1960 he has taught physics and the history of science at Boğaziçi University (formerly Robert College) in Istanbul, with sojourns in New York City, Boston, London, Athens, Oxford, and Venice. He returned to Boğaziçi University in 1993. He is the author of over 40 books.


Travel guides:

History and science books:

Wrote foreword:


Wikiquote has quotations related to: John Freely
  1. Jason Goodwin (n.d.). "Enlightenment (book review)". Washington Post Book World. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  2. John Freely, Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe (2012)
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