Lords of the horizons: a history of the Ottoman empire Jason Goodwin This book explains extremely clearly the phenomenon of the Turkish expansion which occurred from the ninth century until it ran its course in the middle of the sixteenth century. The rolling frontier (similar to the American wild west) and the conflict between the non conformist frontiersmen and the incipient bureaucracy of Constantinople are well explained. Jason Goodwin gives a good explanation of the nomadic influence on the culture of the Ottomans of this period, with its emphasis on horses and tents, rather than castles and palaces. The reasons for the decline of the Ottomans, with the decline of the Jannisary and the gradual enfeeblement of the organisation of the empire is well delineated. The attempts to reform the empire, either by returning to earlier values, or by adopting new western values of liberalism and industrialisation are also clearly shown, as is their fall before the forces of nationalism and underdevelopment. He explains the process of rise and decline so that I could understand why it happened much clearer than I ever could before. The overall feeling which the book gave me was a feeling of wonder at this culture. My only reservations concern Goodwin's knowledge of the Balkans. Is he careless or ignorant when he refers to a voivode as a Hungarian governor, as opposed to a military leader or duke of the Serbs? And when he claims that the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Gavrilo Princip as a member of IMRO (the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation) has he discovered new evidence for Princip's political allegiances or has he just confused IMRO with the Young Bosnians or the Black Hand? Do these areas reflect ignorance or carelessness in an area which was peripheral to the main subject of the book or are they symptomatic of a more general problem? Anyway despite my minor reservations, (and they really are minor) I found this book was well written and well worth reading.
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