Bernard Lewis offers a valuable survey of the history of modern Turkey. The first half of the book is a chronological discussion of the social and political events leading to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of Turkish nationalism. The second half of the book is a more in depth analysis of the key intellectual and political figures who worked both for and against the consolidation of power among the adherents of the C.U.P. Bernard Lewis does not limit his study strictly to the historical issues; he discusses some of the important European missunderstandings that guided policymakers in the Near East. He also elaborates on diplomatic factors that affected commercial relations between the West and East; the history of the European "capitulations" in Istanbul, for example, is touched upon. Where the book really shines, however, is in the second half where Dr. Lewis introduces the western reader to the Turkish periodicals, philosophical tracts and political pamphlets current in the 19th and early 20th cnetury; Dr. Lewis also explores the evolution of modern Turkish in a way that makes it accessible to those unfamiliar with the language -- stressing how important irredentism was in the propaganda of the revolution. The poetry and literature of the elite is contrasted with the language that was spoken by the average Turkish citizenry; a great deal of the rhetoric used by the Ottoman officials and even by the early activists of the Young Turk Movement, for example, was incomprhensible to the masses, because of its obsolescent flourishes and subtle illusions which could only be appreciated by the highly educated. The dificiency of the book is that it's subject matter, although not intentionally exclusive, is more geared toward the specialist in Turkish and Near Eastern history. However, those familiar with some of the other historical factors surrounding the topics discussed shouldn't have any problem following the events as they unfold. But the scarcity of maps, and the oblique references to WWI and some of the other social and historical factors happening at the time (both in and outside of Turkey proper), may leave the less prepared reader a bit confused. But as a work of Turkish constitutional and intellectual history, and as an overview of the stunning accomplishments of Attaturk and his peers, it is an extremely rewarding read.
The book was divided into several chapters, and it's generally well written and explained. There are lots of lines with which I do not agree; the author shared his personal opinions too much in the book. As a Turk, I believe he has misinterpreted Turkish people; also a part of Turkish History.
Briefly, it's an OK book. If you have no idea about Turkey and its past, do not start with Lewis. There are some other authors that have much better books than this one. However, different opinions are always good; and reading a book always offers you something new/different.
Heavily biased. Largely wrong focus on the topic entirely. He totally misses the point. You want this text to show how wrong historians were in the past, or really to critically analyse and contrast with more recent texts:
try Eric Zurcher, Turkey A modern History.
You wouldn't necessarily say his interpretation is racist, more it is just deluded. Neither is it worthless, just wrong.
My study was focused on the period 1923-38 however.