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Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic World Hardcover – 1 May 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (1 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715633686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715633687
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.4 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 903,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Hugh Pope is since 2007 the Turkey/Cyprus Project Director for International Crisis Group, the conflict-prevention organization. Based in Istanbul, he writes reports on EU-Turkey relations, Cyprus and Turkey's ties with its neighbours. Pope was previously a foreign correspondent for 25 years, most recently spending a decade as a Turkey, Middle East and Central Asia Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Pope received a B.A. in Oriental Studies (Persian and Arabic) from Oxford University.

Mr. Pope has written TURKEY UNVEILED: a History of Modern Turkey (London 1997, a New York Times "notable book"), and SONS OF THE CONQUERORS: the Rise of the Turkic world (New York 2005, an Economist magazine "book of the year"). His latest book is DINING WITH AL-QAEDA: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East (New York: Thomas Dunne/St Martins Press). He blogs about the book on, on Turkey/Cyprus on, and on writing life on

Product Description


"Buzzes with life and personality … an excellent first book for anyone interested in the subject" -- Publishers Weekly, May 16, 2005

"Pleasantly opinionated, informative, thought-provoking, occasionally witty ... a good book about an interesting people." -- The Columbus Dispatch, May 15, 2005

"The most comprehensive work on the Turks today … overflows with hilarious anecdotes and distinctive characters" -- The Economist, May 19, 2005

'Pope has ranged far and wide, listening and observing, and he recounts his experiences entertainingly and illuminatingly' -- Times Literary Supplement

From the Publisher

The Turks and other Turkic peoples boast an extraordinary past. They have recently reclaimed the wide steppes and mountain ranges of their untamed, mineral-rich homelands. Many signs point to strong future progress. Yet the Turkic peoples remain some of the least understood nationalities on the planet. In this unique new book, Wall Street Journal correspondent Hugh Pope bridges this gap in our knowledge with a riveting account of 15 years of travels through more than 20 countries and communities of the Turkic world.

Above all, SONS OF THE CONQUERORS provides a new, coherent framework for understanding today's scattered descendants of the Turkic nomad hordes, or armies, who once vanquished China and the Byzantine Empire. Mixing tales from medieval chronicles with anecdotes from his own adventures, Hugh Pope shows the myriad connections that live on between Turkic peoples. These include rebellious Uygur Turks in western China's Xinjiang province, the post-Soviet nations of Central Asia, one quarter of the population of Iran, harassed minorities in Iraq and the Balkans, and the flourishing, controversial new immigrant communities of Europe, where Turkish can now be heard on every other street corner of Berlin. He even finds an American community in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States, the Melungeons, who have adopted a Turkic identity based on two lines of descent: one from native Americans who crossed the Bering Strait, and another line from Ottoman galley slaves abandoned on the American coast by Sir Francis Drake. Fanciful but sincere, the Melungeon's leader believes that his people prove that a Turkic thread literally girdles the world.

Along the way, SONS OF THE CONQUERORS explores the legacy of Turkic history, which has been bloody, glorious and rarely dull. For centuries, Muslim lands were ruled by Turkic dynasties like the Moguls who conquered India, the Safavids who laid the foundations of modern Iran and the Ottomans whose five-century-long empire encompassed Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East. Turkic ascendancy was slowly broken in the past two centuries by the rising power of Europe, Russia and China, turning Turkic populations into refugees or unloved provinces of others' empires. To show how this still colors Turkic attitudes, Hugh Pope joined columns of refugees in Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, and experienced at first hand the fear of the oppressed Uygurs of China.

SONS OF THE CONQUERORS tells how Turkic peoples are building up momentum. Six independent states now have majorities who speak Turkic languages, and a number of other territories are winning measures of autonomy. Altogether, Turkic populations number some 140 million people worldwide. Pragmatic Muslims for the most part, they offer a readiness to work with the West, access to the new oil province in and around the Caspian Sea and examples of secular governance for the Islamic world. The most powerful and best-established Turkic nation, Turkey, hemmed in for half of the 20th century by its role as a front-line guardian of NATO, has emerged as the most democratic Muslim country and is now negotiating for full membership of the European Union. After a shaky start, the five Turkic states of the Caucasus and Central Asia set free by the end of the Cold War -- Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic -- are making an independent-minded comeback too.

One of the world's foremost experts on Turkey -- and acclaimed co-author of Turkey Unveiled (a New York Times Notable Book) -- Hugh Pope has criss-crossed the wider Turkic world to encounter and assimilate the many facets of this diverse, fascinating and ambitious ethnic group. He distils their opportunistic and prickly genius, shows a new convergence in language and governance, and argues that the basis has been laid for a commercial and cultural solidarity unthinkable before 1991. Weaving together the military legacy of nomad raiders under Attila the Hun, the era of the Great Game and today's wars and political upsets, SONS OF THE CONQUERORS is a compelling account of a long-neglected subject. It brings readers into closer contact with a culture that has shaped history, offers insights into developing countries everywhere and opens a refreshing new window on the Islamic world.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Selo on 25 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As in the Italian old saying, for many reasons, some true, some exagerated, Turks have been subjected to many negative adjectives. As part of a nation belonging to the eastern part of the world, pride has always been a prime concern for us, bringing its influence heavily on our way to think and behave. In short, we have not been not able to judge ourselves from a more objective angle.
This book, written by a westerner, but with through knowledge of The Middle-East, brings us a rather objective view on Turkey, Ottoman Empire and all the other Turkic States which have been present since ancient times but which only recently started to express their presence after the end of the Soviet Socialist States.
The book is very comfortably read through with very clear English and with a rather journalistic approach.Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic World
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ramsay Wood on 16 May 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a racehorse of a book that I enjoyed immensely and rate highly because of its unique content. Buy and read it as you will be sure to learn cultural histories you cannot pick up anywhere else in English. Then decide for yourself if my next comments seem fair.

This racehorse called 'Sons of the Conquerors' covers crucial material at such breakneck speed that some readers simply won't be able to stay the course.

This is a terrible pity as undertstanding the dense complexities of the Turkic peoples (and the pattern of minorities within their many national borders) is an urgent global requirement, as the author's self-evident passion makes clear. But the problem appears to be one of under-funding; this book is a labour of love that simply cannot (in its detached US journalistic format) deliver its message, rather in the sense that you cannot satisfactorily send a 'kiss by messenger'.

The author,Hugh Pope, is the Istanbul bureau chief for 'The Wall Street Journal'. His book cover over 15 years of his reports in many remote and harsh regions of the Turkic-speaking world. He is no doubt a charming reporter with a tenacious capacity to amble or (if required, and possibilities allow) push to the center of the action and paint an informative and vivid portrait.

But his agent and his publisher have done him a great disservice in supposing that a patchwork quilt of short pieces roughly stitched together (however succinct each section's bold subheading) will amount to an accessible or popular book. The problem is this is a road book without a sustaining theme or coherent personal storyline. You often don't know who you're with or where you are going, and thus few readers will be able navigate such plotlessness easily.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written and interesting historical account which was clear, concise and interesting to read. delivered in perfect condition & on time.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Aug 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Hugh Pope travels the length and breadth of the Turkic world. He gives us a fascinating insight into the nomadic past and spirit of the Turks which has created a presence spanning from the Turks of Turkey right across to the Uyghur Turks of East Turkestan in China.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of many of these Turkic countries, Pope realises the possibility of a culturally and perhaps politically unified race spanning the whole of Central Asia. Through his grasp of the Turkish languge, Pope is able to communicate with all levels of Turkic society and in so doing allows us to understand what it is that links Turkic people together.
Pope shows us that one of characteristic traits of the Turkic people is their history of soldiery, with the likes of Atilla the Hun, Timur the Tatar, Mehmed the Conqueror, Suleyman the Magnificent and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk all part of the Turkic race.
An excellent book.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "triggerwitch" on 24 Jan 2006
Format: Hardcover
Pope's work paints a vivid and detailed picture of the rights and wrongs, ills and discontents of Turkey and the Central Asian Turkic states, from a fairly impartial point of view. The aim of the author must have been to analyse the cultural and political mentality of the Turkic communities, taking into account the historical process that the region has been going through. This book is not all about championing the might of the Turks, or stressing the extent of the territory that the Turkic peoples occupy. As a Turkish national myself, I've rather interpreted this work as a candid account based on the author's extensive research and observations on the Turkic communities around the world. The author must have taken great pains to interview the Uygur Turks in repressive China, political dissidents in Central Asia, and it must have been equally difficult to get hold of influential people to get access in certain places, so the readers need to appreciate the amount of work one has to put in a volume like this before making superficial judgements. While reading Pope's account on Karimov's Uzbekistan and Turkmenbashy's Turkmenistan, it s also possible to draw parallels between the repressive system in 1980s Turkey and the suffocating atmosphere in contemporary Central Asia. I found this work really inspiring, and would definitely recommend it to other fellow Turks and whoever is interested in the Turks.
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