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The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire [Paperback]

Patrick Balfour Kinross
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.20
Price: 11.10 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 638 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (31 Dec 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688080936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688080938
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.1 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Presents the complete account of one of the greatest imperial powers in history--the Ottoman Turks--from the beginnings of their sultanate in 1300 A.D. under Osman I through the height of their civilization under Suleiman the Magnificent.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and informative read 4 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Lord Kinross takes on the huge task of detailing the Ottoman Empires history from its birth in the 14th century, until its dissolution in 1923. Yet Kinross manages to keep the reader constantly attached to unfolding events which at its zenith, under Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, made the Ottoman Empire the most powerful civilisation in the world. He is equally adept at describing its downfall, spurred on by infighting, corruption and less capable Sultans. The book is an excellent prequel to his other huge work, Ataturk, the biographical account of the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Ottoman history 26 Nov 1997
By A Customer
For what it tries to achieve--a sweeping, compelling and entertaining recount of the entire history of the Ottoman empire--this book is flawless in its execution. Lord Kinross is a masterful writer well acquainted with his subject. He effortlessly weaves accounts of important and long-range social, economic and institutional changes into a story disguised as a pageant of colorful personalities. For me, the most eye-opening part of the story was the nineteenth-century: the decrepit Ottoman empire as a fierce source of entropy for the delicately balanced European great power systems. It was most enlightening to view European diplomatic struggles from the vantage point of Istanbul.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now that's what I call history! 30 Dec 1998
By A Customer
If all history books were written in the same style as this one, I might never have flunked history myself! A long, complicated series of events are presented in a fast moving, logical, most interesting & unfussy way. It's just a pleasure to read Lord Kinross' exquisite English. It's also a pleasure to share his deep knowledge & love of the subject. I found the first three-quarters of the book slightly more enjoyable, quite simply because it dealt with larger than life central characters operating successfully & disastrously, but always with complete authority. Sultans from the magnificent, to all manner of absolute crackpots, are described in all their glory, or lack of same. Do your self a favour & read this book. It's arguably the easiest & most entertaining way I have found to improve one's history!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent general history of the Ottoman empire 10 Aug 2008
This is a well written and researched history book - assertions that is it like fiction or reads like a soap opera (suggested by a couple of other reviewers) are simply wrong.

Kinross manages to squeeze about 500 years of history into ~600 pages and in my opinion succeeds in covering the most important content in sufficient depth for the general reader. I particularly enjoyed the coverage of Ottoman diplomacy conducted with European powers in the latter part of eighteenth century onwards.

On the negative side, I believe that there are too few pictures and certainly too few maps for a book of this length, and those that are included are not high quality. The paper itself is also low grade, which is a shame considering the content is otherwise really good.

I highly recommend getting a copy of this book, but it is perhaps worth exploring editions published by other companies - the Amazon marketplace appears to have several.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This book is a grand survey at the undergraduate level. You get a chronological treatment of the empire's expansion and then its stagnation and decline. Unfortunately, it gets lost in the details of territorial conquests, that is, which odd little principalities are in play at what moment, how the fight went, and what the ramifications were for the Ottoman empire's territorial integrity. While it is essential to understand this for the history of Europe and Asia minor from 1200 to the present day, this makes for a pretty thick slog at times. Unfortunately, there are far too few ideas as to what were the causes for this evolution or what its accomplishments were in the cultural realm. That means there is very little depth or flavor and predominantly facts and more facts.

The story, of course, is remarkable: a small tribe begins to build an empire in Central Asia and expands into Byzantine territory and then into the heart of Europe itself, all while conquering large swaths of territory in N Africa and the Arabian peninsula. It expanded unchecked for 200 years, also as a sea power, then began a long period of decline as "the sick man of EUrope." It then completely fell apart in the 1st world war, when the empire was divided up by the European powers, creating many of the disputes in the middle east that last to the present.

In the beginning, the organization of the empire was innovative: with a sultan at its head as an "enlightened despot", it functioned largely as a military meritocracy, where capable leaders were given huge new areas to govern (and exploit) for a period of time, but did not become a hereditary aristocracy (i.e. it avoided the way that talent was limited from rising in Europe by chivalric privilege).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book should be required reading for anyone planning a visit to Turkey. It is an incredible story of how great leaders carried a border tribe into world super-power status over three centuries and then weak leaders and internal strife allowed its decline into dissolution. It's almost a modern soap opera. Very well written. I carried it on our tour bus and our guide wouldn't let me take it home -- he wanted so much to read it himself, I gave him my copy as a going away present.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A suitable gift
Bought as a gift for a family member who is very interested in the area and it's history. The gift was very well received
Published 3 months ago by anni
4.0 out of 5 stars I Must have for the Turkey Scolar
This goes without saying I suppose. I is the definitive account of the history written by a Westerner. Need to pick up books written by Turks to get a balanced view.
Published 5 months ago by C. G. Watson (Cyril the Squirel)
5.0 out of 5 stars A very, very good book
This is a spectacular book. It gives an enourmous information, in not too many pages of a long period, describing the creation of
the ottoman Empire, till his final demise,... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Fernando Neto
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
A comprehensive history. It's a big book and sometimes takes some perseverence to keep going, but in general it is well written and there is plenty of interesting stuff to reward... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jim Voorhout
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, but worthwhile
This is a long book, covering a huge expanse of history - perhaps too much for a single book. The early stages are fascinating but, after Suleiman the Magnificent, when the decine... Read more
Published on 10 April 2011 by lesharris
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Very good read, never bogged down with too much information but still passes on a lot of knowledge
Published on 9 May 2010 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read with all the detail you are ever likely to need
great book that i couldnt put down. i enjoy history books that are well balanced with great stories and historical information, i got exactly what i wanted.
Published on 12 Sep 2009 by E. Trott
4.0 out of 5 stars Good coverage of the European sentiments of the times, would have been...
I think, that as with any author that attempts a task on the scale of this book, you have to give them a celebratory hand simply for attempting such a feat. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 2009 by N.G.Habsburg
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary and extraordinarily well-written history of the...
I recently purchased two books about the Ottoman Empire but I have read them out of order. That which deals with the demise of the empire, 'A Peace to End All Peace,' is reviewed... Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2008 by Geoffrey Woollard
2.0 out of 5 stars Read "Report On Turkey" By George Horton, Insted
I'll use the words of a former customer review : "It's almost a modern soap opera." If this is the average level of the american reader then I guess all books will be... Read more
Published on 3 Sep 1999
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