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Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds Paperback – September 16, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0374531409 ISBN-10: 0374531404 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Revised edition (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374531404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374531409
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A passionate love for the Turkish people and an optimism that its ruling class can complete Turkey's transformation into a Western-style democracy mark Kinzer's reflections on a country that sits geographically and culturally at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Kinzer, the former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief, gives a concise introduction to Turkey: Kemal Ataterk's post-WWI establishment of the modern secular Turkish state; the odd makeup of contemporary society, in which the military enforces Ataterk's reforms. In stylized but substantive prose, he devotes chapters to the problems he sees plaguing Turkish society: Islamic fundamentalism, frictions regarding the large Kurdish minority and the lack of democratic freedoms. Kinzer's commonsense, if naeve, solution: the ruling military elite, which takes power when it feels Turkey is threatened, must follow the modernizing path of Ataterk whom Kinzer obviously admires a step further and increase human rights and press freedoms. Kinzer's journalistic eye serves him well as he goes beyond the political, vividly describing, for instance, the importance and allure of the narghile salon, where Turks smoke water pipes. Here, as elsewhere, Kinzer drops his journalist veneer and gets personal, explaining that he enjoys the salons in part "because the sensation of smoking a water pipe is so seductive and satisfying." Readers who want a one-volume guide to this fascinating country need look no further.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Americans can no longer plead ignorance about modern Turkey. Recently, several excellent books on the subject have been published by Western journalists: Marvine Howe's Turkey Today (LJ 6/1/00), Nicole and Hugh Pope's Turkey Unveiled (Overlook, 1998), and now this work by Kinzer, former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief (1996-2000). All three are informative and provocative, though each has a slightly different focus (Howe focuses on the role of Islam, while the Popes provide a narrative history). Interspersing journalistic essays with personal vignettes, Kinzer discusses Turkey's potential to be a world leader in the 21st century, as it is truly a bridge between East and West, politically and geographically. Kinzer questions Turkey's ability to achieve this potential, however, unless true democracy can be established. Whether it can depends on Turkey's military, which, in order to ensure the continuation of the Kemalist ideal of a paternalistic state, has never allowed real freedom of speech, press, or assembly. Kinzer argues persuasively that if the military refuses this opportunity, the consequences (Islamic fundamentalism, Kurdish terrorism, denial of EU membership) could be catastrophic for the Turkish state and its people. An excellent, insightful work; highly recommended. Ruth K. Baacke, formerly with Whatcom Community Coll. Lib., Bellingham, WA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Stephen Kinzer was Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times and is now that paper's national cultural correspondent. He is the author of Blood of Brothers and co-author of Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. He lives in Chicago.

Customer Reviews

An extremely well written book.
Amazon Customer
When we travel, I like to read a book about the country's history before we go so I have a better understanding of the people and the places.
jim's travels
Highly recommend this book before you travel to Turkey.
Mila Thomas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 99 people found the following review helpful By W. Jarvis on October 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Thank you, Mr. Kinzer.
To all reading this, please buy this book if Turkey or world cultures interest you.
I've heard Turkey and Turks called everything from genocides to barbarians to philistines to militarists and just as easily, I've heard the country brushed off as if it's just another fragment of a nation, a third-world country. The problem is that Turkey is only half-known, and Turkey is half-sure of what it must do.
The book makes clear all the difficulties of Turkey and its search for a place in the sun. Yes, there were massacres of Armenians after their support of Russia in WWI. Yes, there have been several military coups that tortured thousands of people. Yes, the Kurdish wars were terrible and kept secret by the government. But what were the circumstances of these events? Kinzer answers all, taking the right people to task for the crimes in Turkey's past.
The wonderful thing is that Kinzer doesn't shy away from the awful realities, the eccentricities, and the outright pitfalls of Turkey's quirky system. He tells it all how it is, but he obviously loves the country all the same. He just hopes it will fix its flaws as he knows it can.
I am of Turkish descent but this book written by a non-Turkish American thoroughly deepened my appreciation for the country. If you're attracted by the book at all, follow your instincts and pick it up.
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful By M. Coburn on May 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
You can learn a good deal about Turkey from this book but it suffers two weaknesses. One is the heavy-handed prescriptions for Turkey which the author voices repeatedly; while much of the analysis seems cogent, there is an almost-arrogance in the idea of an American reporter telling the Turks how they should fix their nation. The second is the almost total omission of any discussion of the role of women in the culture --- a critical and profoundly interesting question as the country finds its way between East and West.
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91 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on September 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A truly modern Turkey governed by the rule of law would raise the Turkish people to levels of
prosperity and self-confidence they have never known before. Despite the country's political and
psychological underdevelopment, it has the resources to become a towering power. If it can
itself from its paralyzing fears and embrace true democracy, it will also serve as a magnetic
example of how the ideals of liberty can triumph over enormous obstacles. By adding moral
strength to its military strength, Turkey could become a dominant force in the Middle East,
encouraging peace and pulling Arab countries away from the social backwardness and feudal
dictatorship under which most of them now suffer. It could exert a mighty and stabilizing
influence westward to the Balkans and eastward to the Caucasus and Central Asia, becoming the
key power in a region that is strategically vital, overwhelmingly rich in oil and other resources, and
now ruled mostly by tyrants who are dragging it toward chaos.
-Stephen Kinzer, Crescent & Star
Though we pay obscenely little attention, Turkey is an extraordinarily important nation and its future
may go a long way to determining whether Islam and democracy can ultimately co-exist in one
nation. Geographically and politically, Turkey occupies a unique position, squeezed between Europe
to the West and the Islamic world to the East. Though traditionally Muslim, its great revolutionary
leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, upon taking power in 1922 and establishing a Republic, reoriented the
nation towards the West, toward the values of the Enlightenment and the institutions of secular
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "rrr338" on December 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Crescent and Star" is a very intriguing, accessible, and passionately written overview of Turkey, with special emphasis on its struggle to emerge as a democratic state. While some have complained that this book is "shallow," I think that's being overly harsh, since, with all the history and varied cultures that have defined modern-day Turkey, copious volumes could still be written that would provide new insight.

Author Stephen Kinzer should be credited with producing a fluidly written and I daresay exhilirating introduction to this fascinating nation that, as the subtitle suggests, literally and symbolicallly stands between "two worlds." Kinzer comes across as a sort of "cheerleader" for Turkey and the Turkish people, not hiding his hopes that this tradition-steeped nation reach its potential to become the world's first Islamic democracy. And why shouldn't he cheer? The implications of Turkey attaining this goal are nothing short of staggering.

As Kinzer points out, Turkey is faced with the challenge of forging a secularist, free, multicultural, and economically strong nation. It's enticing destiny is not to become another United States, but to achieve a world stature that will in certain ways exceed that of the United States. The U.S. became the world's poster-nation for freedom, in large measure, because its history was forged in a relatively short time, unencumbered by centuries-old antagonisms. You often hear that peace is hopeless in the Middle East because of the anciently rooted antagonisms that continue to fester. Kinzer shows glimmers of hope that Turkey, while never dismissing nor forgetting its history, may just be capable of breaking free of its oppressive grasp. This is something the U.S. never had to overcome.
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