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Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923

Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923 [Kindle Edition]

Caroline Finkel
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'An absorbing, monumental story . . . a reliable, authoritative account . . . a balanced assessment of the Ottomans . . . a marvellous achievement, which deserves to provoke widespread debate' (Jerry Brotton, BBC History magazine)

A Turkish delight (Metro (London))

'Splendidly written . . . Finkel's intimacy with the material makes this the most authoritative narrative history of the empire yet published . . . Detailed . . . Her narrative focuses on the dynamics of the imperial story . . . lively analysis' (Jason Goodwin, Literary Review)

'History written with a dynamic, modern feel and penetrating gaze' (Good Book Guide)

Instructive . . . A fine single-volume account of a long and at times complicated period . . . Finkel clearly loves her subject (The Tablet)

'The freshness of Finkel's history [is] striking. The secret, apart from an irresistible narrative style, is a generous openness to every aspect of Ottoman life and culture . . . What has often come across as an impossibly exotic procession of Viziers, Beys and Pashas is here brought vividly home to the reader' (Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman)

'Excellent' (The Times)

BBC History magazine

'An absorbing, monumental story . . . a marvellous achievement, which deserves to provoke widespread debate'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6324 KB
  • Print Length: 720 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (19 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087JU4SE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #126,779 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dream of a book 21 Aug 2005
In the last few years there has been a flow of good new studies on the Ottoman Empire. But none has been a history of the Ottomans from start to finish, based on a wide range of sources, but a flowing narrative rather than a textbook. Now with Osman's Dream we have a narrative history that will be hard to surpass.
Finkel unites this long history in a manner that disentangles its complexities, brings its individuals to life, and connects the Ottoman past to the Turkish present. Even with well known episodes, she manages to add something new, often through the deft use of Ottoman sources in a sprightly translation. It is a huge book, but for this reader, never seemed overlong.
There is often one book that will outlast all the others on any given subject, and will define the topic for a generation. Finkel already has a reputation in her academic area of Ottoman studies. The truly remarkable aspect of Osman's Dream is that it is good not just on her speciality, but all the way through, from the 14th to the 20th century. Might this not be THE history book of 2005?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Like many other readers, I purchased "Osman's Dream" to gain an understanding of a once vast and powerful Empire that I knew relatively little of, eager to understand how its long history still impacts upon the present day tensions in Balkans and relations between the West and Muslims. To this extent I found the wars with Austria and Russia to be the most enjoyable aspects of the book, although in some places they are described all too briefly. A large part of the book is dedicated to the politics of the Porte and, whilst all the intrigue can be fascinating, at times I found myself struggling to keep up with who was who, though this can partly be atributed to a Westerner's difficulty keeping track of dozens of Islamic personalities rather than any fault in Mrs Finkel's story telling. What did disapoint me however, was the lack of social history, and the ordinary life of Ottoman subjects can at times feel neglected. Hopefully the increase in interest in Ottoman history will rectify this over the coming years.

I also felt that more maps sprinkled throughout the text would be beneficial as, whilst relatively comfortable with the European campaigns, at times it was difficult to gain an understanding of the Ottomans' wars on their eastern frontiers without having to consult with additional
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good narrative of Ottoman political history 17 Mar 2006
Though many people today are more likely to associate the word 'ottoman' with fancy cushioned footstools rather than with a mighty regime, the Ottoman Empire dominated much of southeastern Europe and the Middle East from the fifteenth century to the end of the First World War. In many respects it was the last of the mighty Muslim empires which challenged Christian Europe, while its' lengthy decline concerned generations of Western statesman and its successor states still demand the world's attention.
In this book, Caroline Finkel offers us a single-volume history of the Ottoman Empire, ranging from its obscure origins to its demise in the 1920s. Though similar overviews have been written before, her goal is to dispel the traditional 'rise and fall' approach and to free the empire from its' stereotyping as, in her words, 'a theatre of the absurd.' Tapping into the enormous wealth of recent scholarly work on the Ottomans, she offers a far more complex and nuanced portrayal of the empire than in most popular accounts – pointing out, for example, that the ranks of the soldiers of the early empire included as many Christians as it did Muslims, and that it was not until well into the empire's decline in the 18th century that the Ottoman sultans began to embrace the previously disused title of caliph.
Yet the book suffers from a relatively narrow focus. Most of the text is dominated by a narrative of high politics, one concentrating on the machinations and maneuvering of the sultans; other elements, such as the complex social and economic structures of the empire, are addressed only in passing. Moreover, Finkel rarely explains the empire in any depth.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good content but hard to wade through 27 Sep 2010
By Baruch
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book draws on contemporary Ottoman sources, and on modern writing in a range of languages to present an account of the Ottoman empire from start to finish. It has a few maps, several pages of illustrations (sadly not in colour) and a substantial apparatus of endnotes, bibliography and index. It sets the story in a broad international context, and sheds in passing a lot of light on more recent situations, such as the Balkan wars, or the conflict over Kurdish identity. It's an old-fashioned history in the sense that it's preoccupied with political leadership and with the strategy and tactics of international affairs, rather than with the day to day life of ordinary people, and this is particularly striking with relation to wars, battles and executions, of which there are a great many, often with no attempt to give even the numbers of combatants, let alone their experiences. Some of the worst events, like the burning of Smyrna / Izmir in the war of Independence, are simply not mentioned, and her discussion of the Armenian genocide is superficial.

Finkel is not a fluent writer. Or it would be more accurate to say that she doesn't make for fluent reading. She is given to long sentences - often very long (with parentheses inside parentheses) indeed - they loop on and on with semicolons marking extra bits tacked on at the end; like that, only longer. Too often I found myself deep into a sentence, still searching for a subject, an object, or the main verb. Sentences that sprawl over five or six lines are common, and on at least two occasions there were sentences that covered ten lines. It is always possible to construe a meaningful and grammatical sentence, but goodness it's hard work at times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny
For a book this size, this is amazing. It shall occupy me for hours on end, very detailed as well
Published 3 months ago by alex
4.0 out of 5 stars Great background
This book has given me really useful information as background to a visit to Istanbul. It is also very readable
Published 5 months ago by Neil Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish Tom Holland had written this
It was hard going. I like my history and a lot of the books I've read recently have been academic, but easy reading. Read more
Published 6 months ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book
Probably the leading book in the field. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written. This is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the Ottoman empire.
Published 6 months ago by happyexpat
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going
If it is information you want look no further. The detail in this book is incredible and each chapter has a hundred or so cross references which can be followed up by those with... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Stephen J. Oneil
5.0 out of 5 stars great gift for my husband
Given as a gift it is a great book, easy to read and packed with information, I would recommend it to others
Published 7 months ago by Debi Mills
4.0 out of 5 stars Osman's
Goes into depth. Good for the history enthusiast looking to broaden their knowledge of this vast empire. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mack
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but badly written
Interesting but badly written. The narrative goes back and forth in a way that I found hard to follow well.
Published 8 months ago by harriers
1.0 out of 5 stars A catalyst - read the 1 star review, but still buy it, aware that it...
The 1 star review by Mr Dunkin Wedd is spot on, but I would be interested to know whether he finished it, found an alternative, gave up on Ottoman history or is still wondering -... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Milo di Thernan
4.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good
Haven't yet finished the book, like others I also found it difficult to follow in places. Not one to be read as a night time read before sleep! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rach
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