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Turkey: A Short History [Hardcover]

Norman Stone
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Mar 2011
New from the eminent historian Norman Stone, who has lived and worked in the country since 1997, comes this concise survey of Turkeys relations with its immediate neighbours and the wider world from the 11th century to the present day. Stone deftly conducts the reader through this story, from the arrival of the Seljuks in Anatolia in the eleventh century to the modern republic applying for EU membership in the twenty-first. It is an historical account of epic proportions, featuring rapacious leaders such as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane through the glories of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent to Kemal Atatürk, the reforming genius and founder of modern Turkey.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (14 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500251754
  • ISBN-13: 979-0500251750
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Impressive, and suggests a contemporary Herodotus at work ... Stone does justice to the enormous complexity of Turkish history'

'Arresting ... authoritative and measured ... Stone's Turkey breaks the popular mould and introduces its readers to a place beyond their presumptions' --The Sunday Times

'Brilliant and readable ... pithy, straightforward, superbly argued and very funny ... This is a book you could easily read on a plane ride to Istanbul, and you should, too'
--Country Life

`Norman Stone is one of the great historians of our time ... a refreshing and sometimes surprising view of Turkish history' --Military Illustrated

'Stone's irreverent narrative is a spur to read more about a forgotten power that is central to Europe's history' --The Financial Times

'Lively, forceful and fast-moving'
--The Scotsman

--The Catholic Herald

'An enjoyable gallop through the history of Turks' --The Literary Review

'However many histories of Turkey you have read, you will never have read one as incisive, combative and sure-footed as this one, which is also delightfully brisk and extremely funny' --Cornucopia

'An authoritative but clear guide to an extremely complex subject in a lavishly illustrated, easy-to-follow format'
--Good Book Guide

`A fanfare for modern Turkey and a vivid, provocative, often funny, always insightful account of how it came about ... If you really don't know why a portrait of Ataturk hangs in almost every shop in Turkey, read this book' --The Guardian

'Races from the 11th century to the present with irreverent economy'
--Irish Independent

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Craftmanship 30 Mar 2013
I'm not a historian but a surgeon. However my passion through the last 40 years is history and as such I have extensive knowledge of history. After reading only a few pages it stood clear to me that the book has been written with a great deal of emotion. Positive emotion to Turkey. But also negative emotion towards Turkey's classical enemies. In short the positive deeds of turks are enhanced and the negative ones are systematically diminished. I am my self an admirer of Turkey and of Mustafa Kemal, but at the same time only what we know for facts interests me, not the positive or negative emotions of the one or the other author. Therefore the book is simply not trustworthy.

The examples from the author who is a professor of history in Ankara Turkey are numerous:
NS: The Janissaries were young men from the occupied parts of the Ottoman empire who were lifted up through a great education.
Normal consensus: The Janissaries, were small christian (maninly Greek, but also Serbian etc) boys of the age of 6 who were taken away from their mothers by force, and sent to Istanbul to become elite-soldiers. Their families never saw them again. The mere human grief in this fact is never mentioned.
NS: The massacre of Chios was a mistake done by the Turks who mistook the Island for another Island who had in fact deserved to be punished.
Consensus: The massacre of Chios comprised the entire Greek population which was killed, and thousand of women and children were sold as slaves (and never got their freedom back). The massacre was ordered as a reprisal to the uprising in mainland Greece (Morea).

The author also has a divided and inconsistent view on many things. E.g. the Persians (today Iranians).
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"Turkey A Short History" is a great introduction to the country.As a history it is packed with information and with clear analyses of causes and effects but it is much, much more than just a chronological account. Norman Stone's style keeps the tone lively and always readable. He exhibits a dry sense of humour and a common sense approach as well as impressive scholarship.

I particularly like the comments on the Turkish language, which to the casual visitor can seem so baffling.Throughout the text there is a real sense of the author's involvement in and passion for this perplexing and enchanting country. When a reflection on a relevant situation in the modern world would illuminate a historical point, the author doesn't flinch from making it.

The illustrations are beguiling and very evocative. My only caveat about the book is that only one map has been included: that for 1683, when the Ottoman empire was at its greatest extent. I would have liked more maps from different eras and I think they would have helped to illustrate the seismic movements of peoples and armies in this region.

Read and enjoy it and then visit the appendix on further reading. This volume opens the gate.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old-fashioned history 30 July 2011
By T. Burkard VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
No one would expect an objective analysis from Norman Stone, who has never made the slightest attempt to hide his Turcophile tendencies. I appreciate that this book might offend Greeks, but we should remember that the virulent hostility between Greeks and Turks is of relatively recent origins. As Stone makes clear, the Greeks (and dozens of other peoples) were vital elements of the Ottoman system. Indeed, he is scathing about incompetent Turks, including some Sultans and Grand Viziers, and goes to great lengths to emphasise that the notion of a Turkish nation or people only emerged when the Ottoman empire was breaking up.

It's pretty easy to see why Stone's style would offend some modern historians. This is a relatively short book, and it covers a lot of ground. Stone gets his points across elegantly: like Gibbon, he knows how to get complex ideas across with arresting metaphors and similes. Not for him are the tedious 'objective' analyses that so many professional historians use to advance their own prejudices.

Altogether, a fascinating book. Stone is very good on the problems that the Ottomans had in coming to terms with the advances of European civilisation. As the Turkish intelligensia came to terms with the enlightenment, they realised that Turkey could never keep up unless it abandoned the Caliphate and became a secular nation.

He makes it clear that the tensions that now exist in Turkey rest upon the paradox that EU membership depends upon the development of genuinely democratic political institutions--which would in turn almost guarantee an Islamic state that would rapidly repudiate everything that Europe stands for. Yet for all this, the Turkish economy is thriving--and the way things are now, they can count their rejection by the EU elite as an unmitigated blessing.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sparkling brief history 5 May 2011
Pity the poor reader who is curious about history but not to the extent of six or seven hundred pages of it. As a wild generalistion, many history books are too long, written for specialists who will not be reading it entirely for pleasure. As an art form, a short history is hard to write, but Normn Stone excels at it. This is a very good book, taking a huge topic (as he admits) and making it intelligible in less than 200 pages. Ambitiously, it starts at the beginning with the origins of the Turks in the west after a long migration from the frontiers of China. At the end of the book, we have arrived at 2010. Yet Stone never seems hurried, and always keeps the reader interested. It is accurate, incisive, opinionated, and never dull. I recommnd this to anyone trying to follow Turkey's long and colourful history, or just going there on holiday. A must-read book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Exactly Short
A bit too rushed in the details. I think something along the lines of the proverbial 30,000 foot view would have been better for an initial survey of Turkey's history.
Published 12 months ago by ursafilms
1.0 out of 5 stars Turkey: A Long Disappointment
Norman Stone

This review is by the Cote D'Azur Men's Book Group which comprises a dozen retired academics, accountants, engineers,... Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2011 by N. J. Freedman
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb primer
I think the more extreme negative reviews of this book are misleading. Turkey is one of those countries that are a source of endless fascination. Read more
Published on 14 July 2011 by Cardew Robinson
1.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment
Having expected much, I was disapppointed with this short book. There is much to potentially interest albeit at a superficial level, but it is poorly written, appears to have... Read more
Published on 11 July 2011 by Keith H
1.0 out of 5 stars Norman Stone's name printed larger than book title
This is one of the worst history books which I have read.
Norman Stone luxuriates in descriptions of violence and is too opinionated to make this book an interesting... Read more
Published on 18 April 2011 by amazonjohn
5.0 out of 5 stars reader
Informative and short. You need to read many others to get a comprehensive handle on Turkey, but this one gives you a quick and easy head start. And very much up to date. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2011 by Administrator
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