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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 5 August 2006
Andrew Mango shows all traits of English journalism, ability to tell the story from different angles while, without being assertive, finishing up the story with his own point of view. As all of you may know, Ataturk is portrayed as a ultra-skilled, ultra-brave, ultra-intelligent, almost as a prophet like character in Turkish history books and in all parts of Turkish political and social life. Reading Mango's book was a big eye-opener for me in the sense that, while respecting Ataturk as a statesman, he was able to objectively criticise him because of his choices as a leader. This is almost like a crime in Turkey and in the eyes of Turkish elite. Funny but true!

In order to understand the current shortcomings of Turkey, one needs to read the history of Turkey in the first half of 20th century and this book is absolutely one of them. Mango, without hurting Turks' pride, clearly explains the political scene of Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic and Ataturk' role during that period. "Must read" material.
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on 28 April 2006
This is the first major biography of Ataturk after Kinross's 1960s opus. Unlike Kinross - whose book has been called hagiographical - this one deliberately approaches the subject with from a critical viewpoint. In places, this is apt, and leads to a better understanding of the consequences of certain actions. In others, it appears to place the author himself into the category of "those who can't, criticise". For that latter reason, I found the book to be vaguely unsettling, since all too often, the author starts taking himself and his criticism so seriously that the subject matter gets obscured. In addition, in an attempt to trump Kinross, Mango sometimes loses himself in cul-de-sacs; for example, Ataturk's love life is certainly interesting (and more varied than reported here) but is about as relevant to describing the man as is a study of Stalin's mistresses during the purges. Indeed, there is precious little here that is new or original, merely more detail which previous biographers appear to have chosen (wisely) to ignore. Moreover, the book sometimes resembles an autopsy rather than a biography. Calm, detached and clinical, yes, but with all the charm of an umeployment claim form. Mango's writing style is certainly less fluid and nowhere near as entertaining as Kinross's.

The superlatives piled on by the official reviews are a trifle overblown. I would recommend this book, but even more, the Kinross biography.
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on 15 March 2015
A reasonably interesting account of a subject with which I was not familiar. But I found the book a bit short on analysis of how Ataturk achieved a position of leadership. At the same time I did not think the writer managed to give a very clear picture of Ataturk as a man
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on 25 February 2016
Ataturk by Andrew Mango is a very good, if slightly sympathetic, biography of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the man who created the modern nation of Turkey out of the wreckage of the First World War. It is well-written, detailed and informative, putting the life and career of Ataturk in the wider context of the later history of the Ottoman Empire. All in all a very good book.
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on 7 February 2016
This biography is adequate on the developments in Turkey's history over the lifespan of Kemal Ataturk; however, the important issue of the mass deaths of the Armenians in 1915 and thereabouts is somewhat glossed over, and insufficiently examined.
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on 15 January 2014
This book is excellent. Good history of the period of history. But does not deal with the fait of the Armenians and Greeks as well as it should. probably for political reasons. the author wanted to sell books not be ostracised!
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Mango's writing style lacks a certain something. I bought this as holiday reading for Turkey, got about half way through before grinding to a halt through, essentially, boredom. It was about another 4 months before I took a deep breath and picked up again from where I left off and completed it.

There's also a tangible lack of objectivity. True, this is no hagiography, indeed far from it. Apart from the many positives, the man with the burning desire to make Turkey and its people a peer amongst modern nations, we see many of the failings of Mustafa Kemal, who comes across sometimes a bit of a fantasist. His deeds at Gallipoli seem to have been somewhat exaggerated by himself. His "Sun language theory" which regarded Turkish as the original human language, and his claim that all the previous peoples of Asia Minor right into the distant past, Hittites, Phrygians etc. were Turkic, are like the ravings of a National Socialist madman. His six-day speech (Nutuk) to the Republican Party congress in 1927 would have made Stalin proud.

But, apart from Mustafa Kemal himself, the overall historical viewpoint seems a bit pro-Turkish, or at least totally unwilling to upset Turkish sensibilities, rather than objective. Even if there is no evidence anyway, Mango goes well out of his way to distance Mustafa Kemal as far as possible from any of the murders of political opponents - picturing him as the tragic Henry II to Thomas Becket. The Armenian genocide (sorry, "unfortunate loss of Armenian lives which were just some amongst many other incidental victims of the war too") gets not much more than a passing mention. There also appears the modern liberal-left tendency of blaming anyone but the actual perpetrator of a crime. The burning of Izmir and the expulsion and killing of Greeks there is not at all the fault of the Turks who actually did this, but it's rather the fault of we British, don't you know. Well silly me.

It's notable in this regard that many reviewers of the same author's The Turks Today: Turkey after Ataturk (which I haven't personally read) remark that his viewpoint is pro-Turkish nationalist.

Chronologically, the balance of the book feels a little out of kilter. The period incorporating the War of Independence is covered in perhaps too much detail to the detriment of the later years which seem to flit by in a flash. It would have been nicer to see and understand more of Mustafa Kemal's great achievement after the war.

Mango's deep knowledge of Turkey and the Turkish language along with access to documents put him in a position to be able to deliver a definitive work, but it is sullied by his subjectivity. Such an important figure from the 20th century deserves a better and more objective work than this. I have not read the Kinross biography, so cannot comment on the relative merits.
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on 12 August 2013
This is a very good book if you want to know about Ataturk a great man a great book a must read
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on 20 April 2006
A readable and absorbing insight into the life of the savior of Turkey, and founder of the modern Republic. His personal courage, crystal clear vision, unwavering love of nation, iron unshakable will, unending energy, and political genius are all fully illustrated. Also his empathy with the common Turk, his open and honest morals, his humour, and his disregard for his own safety even in battle, all show why he is still revered today. Andrew Mango has written an unmissable classic. His understanding of the subject shines through in almost all he writes, and in a style that warms the reader, even during the slower passages. But it must be said that Kinross' book still sets the standard,.... just.
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on 30 May 2015
Very interesting and comprehensive coverage.
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