Spies, Scandals, And Sultans

Spies, Scandals, And Sultans

by Roger Allen
     
 

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Spies, Scandals, and Sultans is the first English translation of a fascinating and acidly critical portrait of the Ottoman capital of Istanbul during the days of the Sultan Abd al-Hamid. This is the first time that the text, written by an Egyptian journalist and politician, has been available since 1896. The text of the Arabic original is prefaced with an extensive

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Overview

Spies, Scandals, and Sultans is the first English translation of a fascinating and acidly critical portrait of the Ottoman capital of Istanbul during the days of the Sultan Abd al-Hamid. This is the first time that the text, written by an Egyptian journalist and politician, has been available since 1896. The text of the Arabic original is prefaced with an extensive introduction in which the author's life is discussed and the highly controversial contents of the book are contextualized and evaluated for their accuracy against other contemporary accounts of life in the Ottoman capital.

Editorial Reviews

Christopher Stone
This is an extremely important—and exceedingly well-done—translation. The text itself is surprisingly entertaining and even funny in places, as the original author often employs fascinating hearsay anecdotes to help make a point. Allen's introduction masterfully puts the text into context for the non-specialist and successfully explains why, despite the author's biases, the text should be read as more than mere polemic or diatribe. By contextualizing the key players' affiliations and interests in the useful introduction, Allen helps the reader read between the lines of the text.
Miriam Cooke
Spies, Scandals, and Sultans provides a window on to the pomp and opulence of the Ottoman court in its twilight. The introduction is excellent. It outlines the life of the author and situates the serendipitously discovered book that the Ottomans banned, in its time.
Sylvia Wing Onder
In the dark days at the end of the glorious Ottoman Empire, a well-traveled Egyptian observer wrote such a devastating account of the failures of the Ottoman court that his book was condemned to destruction. Fortunately for those interested in the late Ottoman period, at least one copy survived to be rendered into felicitous English by Roger Allen. The text brings the Ottoman court to life before our eyes, through detailed scenes of ceremonies, court sessions, schooling, the interpretation of dreams, and diplomatic audiences. The eunuchs, shaykhs, viziers, slave-girls, judges, military officers, ambassadors, and all ranks of courtiers are described through stories of their political actions and intrigues, with special attention paid to the power struggles intrinsic to an empire under constant threat. Roger Allen has brought forward a treasure of historical and literary import.
Ahmet O. Evin
Roger Allen's translation of Ibrahim Al-Muwaylihi's Ma Hunalik is an important contribution to the field, not least because it is written by a contemporary Egyptian observer whose account corroborates those of both the European observers of the Porte and Turkish critics of the Hamidian regime. Spies, Scandals, and Sultans presents a vivid, amusing if unflattering, and highly critical picture of the Ottoman state apparatus. There is little doubt about where the author stood in relation to the sultan and his entourage but, through the elite network to which he belonged, he made acquaintances at high places and got a good glimpse of how the offices ran at the Palace and the Porte. His laconic, almost taciturn style comes out well in Roger Allen's clear and direct translation, which provides an entertaining read.
Erika H. Gilson
Al-Muwaylihi—masterfully translated by Roger Allen—writing as an 'insider' from the Ottoman capital for his readers in Egypt, considers it a duty to criticize the state of affairs to prevent the collapse of the Muslim Empire and the Caliphate. A must-read for all who are studying the Hamidian Period of the Ottoman Empire.
Muhsin al-Musawi
Both the introduction and the text show a masterly grasp. Although documentary record and archives provide us with a lot of information about the waning Ottoman empire, Spies, Scandals, and Sultans has the advantage of an imposed vision of a discerning intellectual who was a participant in the cultural phenomenon in Egypt and Turkey, with a shrewd insight and an enormous knowledge. An excellent project.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742562165
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
11/28/2007
Series:
New Dialogues in Philosophy Series
Pages:
196
Product dimensions:
0.56(w) x 9.00(h) x 6.00(d)

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