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Comment: Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk was the founding father of the Turkish Republic. He transformed it from a battle-scarred ruin into a regional power and is still hailed as a hero today.
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Ataturk Paperback – 16 Feb 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (16 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719565928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719565922
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 4.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Surely definitive ... I enjoyed every page and recommend this book highly (Simon Sebag Montifiore, Mail on Sunday)

A fluent, thorough and enjoyable biography, which for comprehensiveness, balance and deftness of touch outclasses all the alternatives for the English reader (Mark Mazower, New Statesman)

The best concise account I have ever seen of the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The narrative is gripping. It does not merely present all the facts of Ataturk's career but paints a credible picture of the whole man (Geoffrey Lewis)

The profundity of Mango's analysis and his empathy with the years of national regeneration lift Ataturk to a higher level of biography than any previous account (Alan Palmer, Literary Review)

Takes its place at the top (Norman Stone, Sunday Times)

Book Description

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was the founding father of the Turkish Republic. He transformed it from a battle-scarred ruin into a regional power and is still hailed as a hero today.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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