John Freely

Last updated
John Freely
Born26 June 1926
Died20 April 2017
Education New York University
Scientific career
Institutions Boğaziçi University

John Freely (26 June 1926 – 20 April 2017 [1] ) was an American physicist, teacher, and author of popular travel and history books on Istanbul, Athens, Venice, Turkey, Greece, and the Ottoman Empire. He was the father of writer and Turko-English literary translator Maureen Freely. [2]



Freely was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up there and in Ireland. [3] He dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 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. [3]

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 went in 1960 to Istanbul, Turkey, and took up a post at Robert College (later Boğaziçi University). He subsequently taught courses there in physics, the history of science and astronomy, including the course "The Emergence of Modern Science, East and West", [4] with sojourns in New York City, Boston, London, Athens, Oxford, and Venice. He returned to Boğaziçi University in 1993.

Freely was the author of more than 40 books.


Travel guides:

History and science books:

Wrote foreword:

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  1. "Yazar John Freely yaşamını yitirdi". Cumhuriyet . 20 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  2. Jason Goodwin (n.d.). "Enlightenment (book review)". Washington Post Book World. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  3. 1 2 Derek Johns, "John Freely obituary", The Guardian , 5 June 2017.
  4. John Freely, Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe (2012).