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Lords of the Horizons : A History of the Ottoman Empire Paperback – 4 Mar 1999
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"A fascinating read... a perfect companion for anyone who visits Turkey and wants to make sense of it and those countries it once ruled'" (The Times)
"As plush as a Turkish carpet... Godwin weaves together the threads of barbarism and civilisation with dazzling panache" (Piers Brendon Mail on Sunday)
"So rich, so detailed and so astonishing as to be a book of wonders in itself" (Jan Morris Independent)
"Perhaps the most readable history ever written on anything" (Time Out)
The Ottoman Empire has exerted a long, strong pull on Western minds and hearts. Over six hundred years the Empire swelled and declined; the royal line bent, but never broke, from Osman, born in a desert tent around 1280 to Abdul Mecid, dying in a Paris flat in 1942. Its precipitous rise from a dusty fiefdom in the foothills of Anatolia to a power which ruled on the Danube and the Euphrates stunned contemporaries.For three hundred years it held sway and Istanbul had the richest court in Europe. But the decline was prodigious, protracted, and total. Dramatic and passionate, detailed and alive, comic and gruesome, "Lords of the Horizons" charts the swirling history from the first campaigns to the Charge of the Light Brigade, from the Crusades to the Dardenelles, and brings to life innumerable aspects of Ottoman life, caravans carrying parcels of spice and bags of gold, Western emissaries witnessing executions, distant sentries on far frontiers, jewels, meals, shadow plays and stray dogs. A history, a journey, and a world all in one.See all Product description
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Previous reviewers seem dismayed that this book is not a dusty academic piece of writing, accurate to the letter, but not the spirit, of the Ottoman Empire. It is written, not like a list on a war memorial - just names & dates but, in a way it is like a beautiful wall of Iznic tiles, or an embroidered quilt, and that style reveals far more of the multi-faceted culture & six century-long Osman dynasty's rule over vast lands & diverse peoples.
I came to this book via an abiding affection for all things to do with the Ottoman Empire and especially Istanbul, its heart. Various novels, Jason Goodwin's own Yashim ones and other authors like Elif Shafak and Jenny White, Katie Hickman & Barbara Nadel encouraged me in a desire to explore more about Istanbul & hence resort to non-fiction.... the dark side!
The great thing for an amateur who revels in ancient regimes is that works of historical fiction can spawn a serious interest in studying a person or period in a greater depth. This book, Lords of the Horizons is my bridge to that, as it combines a lightly worn but profound erudition ( doubtless the result of hours of research, reading dusty tomes) with a beautiful style of writing - friendly, amusing and delightfully digressive. Goodwin's footnotes area little treasure trove in themselves.
So this largesse is why I have re-read Lords of the Horizons. I have no doubt I shall happily read it again & discover yet more interesting facts about this fascinating world.
I would also recommend Ogier de Busbecq' Turkish Letters' trans.E.S.Forster
Maybe it's only me, but I think the exposition could have been better.