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Lord Kinross (1904–1976)

Forfatter af The Ottoman Centuries

26 Works 1,309 Members 16 Reviews

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A massive effort, but well worth the read. Mustafa Kemal made a titanic effort to drag Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire into a modern European Nation state. While currently Turkey appears to be flagging in this effort, Kinross details the effort of the first of Turkey's two generations of efforts to gain this goal. Along with Shaka of the Zulu's this Turkish soldier was a man who truly tried to recast his country in the space of a single generation. It is a book filled with insights for those interested in the problems of the second and third worlds even now.… (mere)
DinadansFriend | 2 andre anmeldelser | Dec 14, 2020 |
Kinross' book, of course, is extremely well written and convincing. But reading through it all, you realize he has essentially composed an Ottoman apologia, aimed at elevating his hero, Atatürk, to the position of enlightened liberator of modern Turkey. So he may be to some. But in order to get there, Kinross had to conduct a sly campaign of turning Ottoman history itself into an unappreciated successor to Rome as a fountainhead of tolerance and statecraft, with this version of empire having its origins in Islam.

And so he then goes, applying his quite substantial skills as a biographer in sketching one imposing Sultan's life after another on the reader's mind. It's especially persuasive for the first ten Sultans. Thereafter, it quickly descends into tragedy and the weakening and dismemberment of the empire. Until, that is, Kinross gets to his villain, Abdul Hamid II. It is on Abdul Hamid, the Sultan of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that the blame is placed--he is autocratic, despotic, devious, cruel, and manipulative. It is he who brought about the destruction of the empire. Never mind that the Sultan, through his constant strategy of playing off one great power against the other, managed to preserve the Ottoman dynasty from an even earlier grave.

Then, Kinross' craftiness becomes most apparent. It applies to his treatment of the Armenian genocide. Kinross spends several pages outlining the Armenian massacres of 1894-1896, giving full weight to the atrocities in his description. He also ascribes it all to the background maneuvering of Abdul Hamid. All very true, it is. But in emphasizing the massacres, it is as if Kinross is trying to indemnify himself against his rather lackluster exploration of the much more terrible, thorough, and systematic Armenian Genocide of 1914-1922/23. Why? Because the people responsible for the greater genocide were Kinross' heroes, the Young Turks directly, and, indirectly, Atatürk, a member of this revolutionary group who seized control of the government from the sultans and led the empire into a catastrophic alliance with Germany during World War I, which eventually saw the destruction of the empire as a result. Proof? Kinross writes only two sentences about the Genocide. Ah, but those Young Turks. They revitalized the administration, the bureaucracy, and they modernized Turkey. Yes, they made the trains run on time.

The dismissive analysis of the genocide, of course, is what most sticks out to modern readers. But if you go through the entire history Kinross has written, you will see a pattern of excusing or belittling Ottoman massacres, enslavement of other peoples, and terror. In its place, he erects a benevolent multiracial, universal empire, welcoming to all and seeking world betterment. But for a few bad apples.
… (mere)
PaulCornelius | 9 andre anmeldelser | Apr 12, 2020 |
Lord Kinross's style of relating history was excellent, albeit from very much a 'British Empire' point of view. Despite that perspective, the biography portrays a sympathetic sketch of a Young Turk rising through the military to lead his country. I recommend the book as eminently readable and astonishingly relevant in today's Near Eastern situation as Turkey teeters on the brink of regressing to an Ottoman-like empire, ruled without concern for its citizens' rights. Even though Istanbul is a sophisticated city straddling the Bosphorus, I had very little perception of how the rest of the country was operated. The author brings much of that aspect to life. This biography was my introduction to Kinross's writing and has certainly directed my attention to some of his other historical works.… (mere)
SandyAMcPherson | 2 andre anmeldelser | Dec 23, 2018 |
Kinross portrays historical eras very engagingly (I liked his 'Rebirth of a Nation'). I suppose his views are reflective of a Euro-Brit-centric bias. Nonetheless, his telling of this history seems well-founded on good sources. A little too many military engagements told in too much depth for my taste. Then, I had to skim the last third of the book ~ a consequence of having borrowed from a public library with only one copy!
SandyAMcPherson | 9 andre anmeldelser | Oct 10, 2018 |


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Associated Authors

Norman Stone Introduction
K. Eckstein Translator


½ 3.7

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