"Caroline Finkel effortlessly conveys the high drama of Ottoman history."-Orhan Pamuk
"Magnificent.... For perhaps the first time in English, a genuine Ottoman scholar has written a clear narrative account of the great empire based mainly on Turkish rather than hostile western accounts. The result is not only a revelation; it is a vital corrective to the influential but partial and wrong-headed readings of the flagbearers of intellectual Islamophobia."-William Dalrymple, The Scotsman
"Finkel has managed to produce a scholarly,
lucid, judicious and enjoyable account of over 600 years of history in a single volume, which will surely be the standard work of its kind for many years to come."-Times Literary Supplement
"An absorbing, monumental story of one of the most reviled and misunderstood of all empires.... Osman's Dream is a marvelous achievement."-BBC History Magazine
"How timely to have such a lucid, well-researched, and fair-minded history of the Ottoman Empire-and one too which treats it not as some exotic and alien world, but as part of our common past."-Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919
"Osman's Dream is a treasure for anyone who wants to know exactly what happened when in the Ottoman Empire. Here at last is a reliable history that takes into full account not only the work of international and Turkish historians but also the writings of the Ottomans themselves."-Hugh Pope, author of Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic World
"Finkel has brilliantly woven together a highly readable survey of 600 years of Ottoman history. Well researched and beautifully written, Osman's Dream will be essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about the Empire that ruled for centuries over so many of our contemporary trouble spots-from the Balkans to the Arab world."-Heath W. Lowry, Princeton University
"Finkel is judicious, evenhanded and objective...is an impressive and important work."-The Nation
"[Finkel's] mastery of the historical literature is obvious: The sheer amount of information packed between these two covers makes it a landmark achievement."-New York Sun
"With this superb book, Finkel boldly covers new ground in striving to show the Ottoman Empire from within.... Having spent 15
years living in Turkey, Finkel is uniquely positioned to overcome the practical hurdles to Ottoman research, but her real strength is in historiography: she has a keen ability to extract salient observations from her sources even as she renders their political motives transparent. The result is a panorama of the
Ottoman Empire to rival the best portraits of the Romanovs and Habsburgs, and a must-have for history collections."-Booklist
"The timing of Caroline Finkel's splendidly written Osman's
Dream reflects the buoyant state of Ottoman scholarship. Neglected archives have been triumphantly mined by a new generation of scholars, and Finkel's intimacy with the material makes this the most authoritative narrative history of the empire yet published."-Literary Review
"Osman's Dream is a deeply sympathetic,
compelling and highly readable account of the rise and fall of an immensely complex and dynamic society which, at its height was the most the most far-reaching and the most powerful Empire the world had ever seen. But it is also something more. For Caroline Finkel has not only told history of how a band of Turcoman warriors from eastern Anatolia came to dominate so much of the world. She has also shown why that history matters, why today we are in no position to understand, not merely the modern Republic of Turkey but also modern Islam unless we also understand the past, and the present perception, of the greatest and most enduring of the Islamic states."-Anthony Pagden, Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science, UCLA
What Finkel calls the "old" narrative of the Ottoman Empire is simple to relate: "it rose, declined, and fell." An exotic parade of salacious sultans, grand viziers and duplicitous eunuchs inhabit the sultry harems and domed palaces of Istanbul-at least in our imaginations. Finkel, a long-time resident of Turkey and Ottoman scholar, relates a "new" narrative of empire that properly accounts for the richness and complexity of the Ottoman state over nearly seven centuries. By presiding over their multiethnic empire for so long, and ushering it from medievalism to modernity, the Ottomans should be ranked alongside the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs, she argues. That they are overlooked is the fault of Western historians who have peered at their subjects through the lens of their own prejudices. Finkel's striking innovation is to turn a mirror on the Ottomans and examine how they saw themselves and their empire. While this approach yields a refreshingly original perspective, Finkel's quest to improve Westerners' understanding occasionally leads her into some questionable stretches (an implication, for instance, that Westerners think all Muslims are terrorists). Happily, these remain unintrusive and this history makes a riveting and enjoyable read for all audiences. 16 pages of photos; maps. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In the year 1300, Osman, a Muslim tribal leader in Asia Minor (the future Turkey), dreamed that he would found a great, centuries-spanning empire. Of course, he and his descendants fulfilled that vision with the Ottoman Empire, which lasted from the Crusades until after World War I. Finkel, a noted Ottoman scholar who contributed to the History Channel's forthcoming special, The Ottoman Empire, has penned possibly the first book in English on the entire history of the Ottoman Empire for general readers. In her well-written narrative, she breaks with Western scholarship by not treating the empire as the stereotypical "Sick Man of Europe," preferring to let the extensive Turkish sources tell a story of an enormous, complex, multiethnic state. Her story culminates with the rise of the Turkish republic in the early 1920s and a new founding myth based on the speech of Mustafa Kemal (Atat rk). Finkel, writing from the Turkish point of view, uses Turkish titles and place names that will be unfamiliar to most of her audience. In spite of this, her book should be in most general and academic libraries.-Robert Harbison, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Readable survey of one of the world's great empires. Founded by the Turkoman Emir Osman, who had dreamed that he was destined to do so, the Ottoman Empire lasted 600 years and came to incorporate much of western Asia, northeastern Africa and southeastern Europe. Yet, as British historian Finkel tells it in her U.S. debut, though the dominion may have been vast, it was also tenuous. The Ottomans conquered most of the Arabian peninsula, for instance, but for some reason could never take control of the rich province of Yemen, "singularly failing to subdue it" over the course of a century. They were more effective closer to home, forging an empire by gathering rural Anatolians of many ethnicities and religions and moving them into Istanbul. They similarly pacified the countryside, establishing tight control over the comings and goings of the citizenry. In its more tranquil moments, the Ottoman Empire was an oasis of learning, with much attention given to pleasures and vices. (Its rulers, Finkel writes, appreciated that tobacco and alcohol served "as a means of raising ready cash.") When bellicose, it was something to fear, as the good citizens of Austro-Hungary and various Balkan principalities understood. The empire dwindled in the 18th and early-19th centuries, as Russia seized the Crimea, and Greece gained independence; it disintegrated rapidly in the early-20th century with the collapse of the Central Powers with which the last Ottomans had allied themselves. Finkel's text is a satisfying blend of narrative history, anecdote and character study (featuring such players as "Fairskinned Bosnian" Suleyman Agha and Chief Black Eunuch Yusuf Agha). Her careful but brief discussion of theArmenian genocide, however, may not please readers with a stake in either side of the issue. The more we know about the Ottomans, the more easily comprehensible the subsequent history of the region they ruled becomes. Finkel's study makes a useful contribution.