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Turkey: A Short History by Norman Stone
ISBN: 0500251754
ISBN13: 979-0500251750
Author: Norman Stone
Book title: Turkey: A Short History
Other Formats: docx lit azw lit
Pages: 192 pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
Size PDF version: 1374 kb
Size ePub version: 1454 kb
Size fb2 version: 1805 kb
Category: Middle East

New from the eminent historian Norman Stone, who has lived and worked in the country since 1997, comes this concise survey of Turkeys relations with its immediate neighbours and the wider world from the 11th century to the present day. Stone deftly conducts the reader through this story, from the arrival of the Seljuks in Anatolia in the eleventh century to the modern republic applying for EU membership in the twenty-first. It is an historical account of epic proportions, featuring rapacious leaders such as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane through the glories of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent to Kemal Ataturk, the reforming genius and founder of modern Turkey.

Books reviews
I became fascinated by the Ottoman Empire this past summer, and I relished Norman Stone's historical account. It is contains sharp observation, and a sympathy for the Ottoman Empire that is not always found elsewhere. Brief as it is, there is plenty of information and anecdote in the book to satisfy anyone.
This is extremely poorly written and thus nearly impossible to comprehend. I am now reading and enjoying with much interest the biography of Ataturk and wish I hadn't wasted my time on this.
If you are in a hurry and don't mind missing important nuances this is the book for you.
Can anyone write more or less objective book about that region? This one as well is disturbingly subjective. Author likes Turks. Too much to remain objective.
But it reads very well. Language is nice.
Interesting, even entertaining to read but do not take it too serious.
I knew of Norman Stone's reputation before choosing this as an overview. Yes, the pages (124-6; 147-8) tally the coverage of the Armenian massacres explaining this from a Turkish perspective. Out of about 160 pp. of narrative, Stone devotes a necessarily brief (in a "short history") but controversial amount of attention to this. However, in the larger perspective Stone also wants to show the pro-British bias, since the days of Lord Byron, in how the West by public relations, so to speak, portrays the Turks as defined only by "indolence, erotic stupour, epidemics and oppression" (126). As with Hugh and Nicole Pope's "Turkey Unveiled," (also reviewed by me recently), Prof. Stone argues that we in the West need to look beyond the anti-Turkish bias that permeates media and popular culture treatments of this young, unsteady, and still forming nation.

Within this wider context, Stone offers insights I have not found elsewhere, at least yet. For instance, his expertise in Turkish enables him to clearly show the nuances that escape in translation. He also notes how often the Ottoman Empire sought a better relationship (if not perfect by any means, but taking into account the cruelties of the past) with its Christian and Jewish minorities as well as its other subject peoples, compared to a Byzantium which had been weakened centuries before 1453 by Italian incursions. The blame placed on "the sick man of Europe" by competing hegemonies also leads to ironies. Stone depicts the Ottomans as heirs to an uneasy alliance of disparate peoples, arguably perhaps faced with the same difficulties bedeviling the Hapsburgs. He manages to keep the melange of Ottoman personalities relatively clear.

Some bemoan the wit Stone brings to this. It'd be better if many other historians and scholars did so, for we "educated readers." He keeps the book readable and brisk. He appends a useful list of suggested reading, and his inclusion of German and French sources attests to his erudition. While I wish more on the Ataturk era was included, Stone offers English-language audiences a thoughtful history, prickly, sly, and personable.
Great book!
This is a highly enjoyable read from someone obviously passionate about history and especially in this subject and wants to share that passion with others. The book is highly readable with the odd sly humour thrown in and that latter point will probably stick in the craw of more po-faced serious readers. But it actually enhances the book. It was hard to read this without desperately wishing to be able to go and spend a few months pottering about Turkey and trying to get to grips both with its modern day situation but also the multitude of layers of history that permeate the land.

The book by definition leaps over huge tracts of history - at only a few hundred pages how could it not? - and so to quibble over such things is pointless. The author has obviously had his work cut out for him in trying to decide what to devote time on and what to gloss over or leave out entirely. It can't have been easy. However as the scoots through the centuries it becomes clear - and the bibliography will make clearer - is that the author knows his subject and isn't afraid to tackle a few well tended urban facts. He also rather cannily spends a chunk of time on the Ottoman sultans whose very vibrancy and achievements and then decline in ability and power is so captivating. One thing the reader will probably come away with from this book is a desire to learn more about the Ottoman centuries.

Another area the reader will probably want to explore further is Ataturk who from this book was obviously a colossus and the aforementioned bibliography will give the armchair historian plenty of scope to track down books that will enhance their knowledge.

A great book that will have you hankering for more and desperate to want to travel to the country in question the only real complaints from this quarter is the enforced brevity of it. But, well, the sub-title did say 'A Short History'. Well recommended for anyone wanting to start learning more about Turkey or who is travelling there and wants more than just the history section of their guidebook of choice.
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