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Ottoman Centuries Paperback – August 1, 1979

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 1, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688080936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688080938
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on December 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
Covering 622 years of history in exactly that many pages is no joke, especially when your subject is as vast as the Ottoman Empire, that began with Osman in the year 1300 and shuffled off the record in 1923, when the man who became known as Ataturk shipped the last sultan into exile. To write about so much history is necessarily to choose certain topics to the detriment of others. Lord Kinross made his choices, and though I will argue with him over this and that, the result is certainly a splendid book, which must be called the classic history of the Ottoman Empire---for lay readers. Here are no compilations of dry statistics, no detailed analyses of agricultural production or shipbuilding techniques to confound the layman. Not a single footnote "mars" the pages, nor are references to other writers more than a handful. Kinross inserts few dates to confuse the reader, though I could have used some more enlightening in this direction. His prose is wonderfully smooth, his passage from one topic to the next, fluid. He brings up the big picture again and again, even providing an excellent summary of his ideas in the epilogue. Maps and interesting engravings pepper the pages. I looked forward to reading this book for years: I was not disappointed. However, certain caveats must be mentioned. First and foremost, this is a history that seems to have been written on English and French sources only. Thus, while I can definitely attest to its readability, I can't be sure of its accuracy. Second, Kinross' choice of subject is strictly limited. He portrays the succession of sultans, from the dynamic first ten, to the usually poor-performing, last twenty-five.Read more ›
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Kinross has written an outstanding survey of the Ottoman Empire. He traces the history of the Empire starting with its great founder Osman, through its' highest glory at the time of its two greatest sons Mehmed The Conqueror and Suleiman The Magnificant and finally to its fall in the early 20th century. The book evolves around the sultans and thus the story is told mostly as the story of the Empire's rulers and their policies or lack thereof. However, by chosing this approach Kinross has managed to accomplish the monumental task of covering 600 years of history in one extremely interesting volume. It is therefore an excellent introduction to the subject and a good starting point for those interested in the Turkish empire. In many ways this book is similar to Norwich's excellent Byzantine Trilogy and fans of Norwich will also like this book.
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79 of 85 people found the following review helpful By John H. Piccone on March 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was the first book about Ottoman History I ever read. Having now read litterally hundreds of books about the subject, I re-read Kinross and have some comments:

- Kinross has an engaging style, and this book may ignite an interest in Ottoman history in readers, but only for the EARLY history of the empire, which is clearly where Kinross' interests lie. Even then he doesn't seem to be able to distinguish between history and legend, and a rich and dynamic history is reduced to an Oriental soap opera. His account of the decline is depressing, reflective of Victorian bigotry and bias, and innaccurate and condescending to the point of being mildly insulting.

- Kinross uses NO Ottoman or Turkish sources whatsoever, but then he doesn't really use anything written later than the 19th c.

- He brushes over the 19th c, and subscribes to the 19th c British static view of imperial decay - the Ottomans just sat around declining and having things done to it. In reality, the 19th c is one of the most interesting periods of Ottoman history, wherin the empire was forced to respond to th impact of European capitalism and imperialism. Really dynamic and creative reform programs were instituted with the result that the Ottomans at the turn of the 20th c were incalculably stronger than they were at the turn of the 18th. The Tanzimat is given short shrift as an insincere effort to please the powers and is portrayed as the idea of the British Ambassador (!) and the Hamidiyan era is portrayed as a period of retrenchment, fanaticism, and decadence, when in reality Abdul Hamid, albeit with oppressively autocratic means, enormously modernized the empire and created the school system that educated later reformers including Ataturk.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
In the West unfortunately little is taught about Turkish history: the average person perhaps has only a general idea of the Ottoman Empire, and tragically little understanding of the formation of the subsequent Republic under Ataturk. Kinross's book is the essential skeleton for anyone looking to obtain a more in-depth knowledge of the long-reigning, sprawling Moslem empire, or looking to begin a more intricate study of it. Kinross runs over all of the major events and significant Sultans with shrewd insight into the functioning, or lack thereof, of the different Ottoman regimes.
This is unfortunately perhaps the only work by Kinross, a great authority on Turkish history, still in print and (surprisingly) in mass circulation. Kinross's legendary biography of Ataturk and his studies of the Suez, the Taurus range, etc. have unfortunaly been forgotten; but for anyone who enjoyed this book or is in need of such a perceptive author as Kinross, there's always your Public Library.
Another reader commented on the omission of the Armenian massacres in the book: this is a blantantly erroneous accusation. For the record, Kinross goes well into the topic of the Armenian genocide campaigns by both Abdul-Hamid II and the Young Turks in this book: he gives, at great length, long and gruesome depictions of these horrifying mass-murders. In my experience with reading Kinross, he rarely misses an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy, even wryly pointing out in "Ataturk" the ironies of how it would later heavily burden the Turks on the deserted Eastern front against the Russians in WWI.
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