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The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II - Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire Paperback – 28 Dec 2010
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"In this biography, the first in English in decades, Prof. Freely (Bosporus University), author of some 40 books, mostly on Turkey and Turkish history, explores Mehmet's complex personality, fitting him into his times and culture, seeing him essentially as a Renaissance prince while throwing light on the nature of the Ottoman state and the Balkans in the fifteenth century, both neglected areas of European history." "NYMAS Review"" --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
About the Author
John Freely first went to Istanbul in 1960 to teach physics. A professor at University of the Bosporus in Istanbul, he has written more than twenty books on Turkish history and travel including Istanbul: The Imperial City.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
When reading the legend of the Grand turk one is expected to learn famous conquest of Constantinople (no matter how many authors have covered the story before) as it is the pinnacle of Mehmet II's reign/life. However, the chapter was very short and brief.
I dont usually notice typos in books but I noticed quite a few. In the last chapter about Istanbul, the typos related to the population in the city is glaring. He must have used "million" when he meant "thousand".
Freely’s book is not deep in descriptive depth, but then……… the book is short at only 225 pages. He describes Mehmet II’s ascension to power, at the young age of 21, beginning with his conquest of Constantinople in May of 1453, the last remnant of the Byzantine Empire. But he is less vivid in his description of the actual, and verified by other chroniclers, murderous 3 day rampage of raping, killing, and looting through the captured city by his “soldiers of God” after they breached the walls. These were his rewards to his soldiers for their efforts during the 6 weeks of siege.
The description of Mehmet II, “The Conqueror” as he was called, shows his insatiable appetite for the destruction and subjugation of any civilizations that were not subservient to him and the Islamic religion. Maps and geography were studied intently by The Conqueror as he planned the next “campaign” for his generals and himself. Spaces on these maps that weren’t noted as “Ottoman,” were all targets. Only lightly does Freely describe what must have been the unbelievably savage attacks served up on these infidel nations and their citizens. An example, and only one of many slight notations in Freely’s book glossing over the brutality of his conquests was “…. Mehmet slaughtered all 6,000, or so inhabitants, including women and children – a savage example that lead Greeks in other places to surrender to him without a struggle.” The man was, in actuality, a blood-thirsty, remorseless killer. He lived for only one reason: war.
When reading Freely’s book, I’d recommend that the reader “prime” himself beforehand with other books on Turkish history, so that he can read between the lines and imagine the actual horror this “Grand Turk” foisted upon the world at that time, as it was obvious to me that Freely didn’t want to “tarnish” the legacy of the “Grand Turk.”
Freely touches on other subjects in complete chapters, such as a good description of the renovations and additions that Mehmet II made to his new capitol, Istanbul, after his conquest and during his reign. He also gives adequate descriptions of the governmental offices, administrators, and government structure he implemented during that time. These chapters give substance to his book, and make for interesting reading, and perhaps “humanize” this butcher a bit.
It’s a good read, and covers the time of the “Grand Turk” quite well, but the actual brutality of this man was minimized and does not adequately describe the barbarian that he actually was. As with any despot, his word was the final word and there was no power to overturn, or even discuss, any decisions he made. A mere question about any of his decisions could, and often did, mean execution. He executed anyone he wanted to execute, by any means he could dream up – impaling, gouging out of eyes, sawing people in half, burning them alive, etc. And of course, there was the fully endorsed enslavement of any women and boys who were captured as a result of his armies over running their opponents in battle, their fates only vaguely alluded to in Freely’s book.
His campaigns sent terror through European nations who envisioned his troops marching on their soil and sailing into their waters. He appeared to be an unstoppable force. But, he was confronted with a force with which he could form no defense …………… his own death. Fortunately for Europe at that time, after assembling another huge army, as he began a march south towards Rhodes or Egypt, (it was never revealed which was his target), he became ill. The illness was fatal and he expired in his 49th year, 1481, thereby halting another imminent slaughter of soldiers and citizens whose only crime was that they would not submit to him as his subjects and convert to his religion.