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This is a good book, but the author hasn't thought seriously enough about Ataturk's actions in post-World War I Turkey.
I liked the book, which gives an awful lot of information on modern Turkey. However, it seems to me that the author doesn't question received wisdom as much as he should. Our world currently lauds Ataturk for bringing his people out of the medieval darkness that Turkey was suppposed to have been in before his takeover. However, no one asks if it was really good for Ataturk to unilaterally impose not only changes in the Turkish script but also changes to things as basic and personal as the clothes people were allowed to wear. To me, Ataturk was a dictator pure and simple, and the fact that he imposed some good things on Turkey and also saved his country's territorial integrity, doesn't change that. The author of this book seems to have a habit of admiring other questionable people as well, if I remember correctly; it seems to me that he has a book out which extols President Kagame of Rwanda. I sincerely hope that President Kagame is a good man, but he's recently been attacked for showing dictatorial tendencies himself. However, in the main this is a good book, and the author does admit that Ataturk did some things wrong, though in general he describes him as a great hero. In any case, it would be a shame for people to refuse to read this book just because its author may have one somewhat objectionable political position. Turkey has been so little written about in the English-speaking press that any books on it at all are highly welcome.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2001
An informative look at modern Turkey and it's roots
This book gives a good overview of the historical roots of modern Turkey. Today's Turkey was formed from remnants of the Ottoman Empire shortly after it's defeat in World War I. A group of military officers led by Kamel Ataturk (the Father of Modern Turkey) took control of what was left of the Empire and put in place a military stewardship that has tried to slowly bring Turkey into the modern world in the mold of a European nation, not an Asian nation. Several civilian governments have taken control in past decades, but they drifted from the ideal established by Ataturk and the military stepped in to reestablish moderation. The military has fought liberals as well as radicals and has kept the government secular, supervising and picking acceptable ministers and controlling elections. Turkey has been beset with many internal problems. They have a diverse population and have just finished a long and bloody war with the Kurds that populate their easter provinces. (The Kurds were backed, armed, and financed by Syria just to bring Turkey down a notch). The author aptly explains why Turkey is at a crossroad where it can achieve greatness or sink into obscurity. The Turkish people are a good people. Most of the population is not Arabic. The predominant religion is Islam. The country stands between Europe and Asia and is surrounded by potential danger. The Turks are still waiting and hoping to gain complete freedom in their country. In addition to the historical and political background, the author gives insight about the country and it's people from experience gained by wide travel throughout the country and close contact with many of the diverse people that live there.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.