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Turkey Unveiled Paperback – June 29, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Turkey, write journalists Nicole and Hugh Pope in this well-made narrative history, is a land that defies easy categorization, a melange of elements "European, Western, Eastern, Islamic, fascistic, anarchic" that has always been something of an enigma to outsiders. After decades of stagnation, it is now emerging as a nation of central importance in Eurasian geopolitics, as it was in the days of the Ottoman Empire. The authors describe the growth of the modern Turkish state in the aftermath of World War I, when that empire, defeated by the Allied powers, splintered into some 30 independent states. Led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his so-called Young Turks, the postwar state sought to curb the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, to introduce some measure of democracy into a formerly autocratic system, and to secure a place for Turkey in the constellation of world powers. They were only partly successful; Atatürk, the authors contend, "led Turkey on the path of Westernization, but left it stranded half-way to full democratization because, deep down, he was not a democrat." Now, after years of military rule, the Turkish government is making efforts both to continue that democratization and to secure influence among the emerging Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. The nation, the authors write, is now the arena of conflict between left and right, fundamentalist and secularist, nationalist and cosmopolitan: it stands at a crossroads both political and historical. Westerners, they suggest, would do well to pay closer attention to Turkish affairs, and their book is a fine contribution toward that end. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

...a deeply revealing guide to modern Turkish culture and politics that fills a wide gap in general knowledge.... a brave and at times an ironic book. -- The New York Times Book Review, Robert D. Kaplan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Books (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585675814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585675814
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,919,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
More than any country Turkey has been almost deliberately misunderstood in Europe and in the United States. Some of the misunderstanding comes from lazy thinking, much is ignorance and the rest predjudice combined with politics. Nicole and Hugh Pope, who speak Turkish as well as several other languages, have lived for the past decade in Instanbul. Their clear-eyed understanding of Turkey's promise and problems is clearly conveyed in this well written book. It is a "must read" for anyone who wants to understand the reality of this complex and fascinating country.
It's difficult to think of a country in a more complex neighborhood. Turkey has borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Turkey's relations with each brings a different set of complexities. Ironically Turkey's most strained relations are with it's NATO ally, Greece. Internally Turkey's relations with its Kurdish minority, creates a tension with no signs of easy resolution yet are less hostile than many in the west realize. The Popes explore and explain with a depth of understanding and feeling that can only come not only knowing the language and the people but from having the energy and curiosity to travel widely and interview citizens at all levels of society.
This is not a travelogue but a serious history of modern Turkey. Still one wishes they'd found a way to mention the joys of walking through both the rich and poor neighborhoods of Istanbul where a foreigner can see and experience first hand the Turks righly famous hospitality as well as the dynamic tension inherent in a rapidly changing society where you can see traditionally garbed mothers walking with short skirted, lipsticked daughters.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, Philadelphia on August 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
The title is unfortunate; the subtitle not quite accurate. "Modern Turkey" usually means starting in about 1800 and trailing off somewhere in the last generation; this appears to be another once-over that familiar ground, but it is not. Instead, the Popes (a wife-husband time), in a well-written and reliable account, devote three quarters of their study to the years since 1960. Chapters deal, in a sympathetic but always critical manner, with such issues as the military coups, the Cyprus issue, the Kurdish problem, domestic economic developments, the newly-liberated Turkic republics, the Tansu Çiller fiasco, and the Islamist phenomenon. Throughout, the Popes blame much that they find in Turkey on the modern state's founder, Kemal Atatürk, including the "repression, the intense national paranoia, the shortcomings of its democracy and the over-reliance on the army."
Perhaps most interesting is their account of Türgut Özal, the man who dominated Turkish politics between 1983 and his death in 1993. He was "the catalyst for much of the breathless pace of change that revolutionized Turkey" during that decade-long period. His influence extended to much of Turkish public life: "Undermining the Kemalist bastions of state dominance of business and the media, flamboyantly popularizing a new ideology of the market and international trade, irreverently breaking taboos about the military, Islam and the Kurds, Türgut Özal became Turkey's most influential political personality since Atatürk." The authors catch his contradictions ("for all his Muslim piety, [he] liked to finish off a bottle of his favorite Courvoisier brandy") and his foibles ("He is like a piece of soft iron. Whatever magnet he sees, he sticks to"), without undermining his outsized and constructive role.
Middle East Quarterly, December 1999
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Yilmaz on January 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have read Popes' book with great enthusiasm initially, but I must confess that I ended up in disappointment since I could not find in the book the nice and necessary touch to this highly complicated issue.
The content of the book is not as academic as its title asserts. It is written very much in a journalistic style in terms of its outline and the quotations, which is fine. However, when it comes to the quality of the work within academic criteria, it lacks referencing some cornerstone work in the field, including some of Feroz Ahmad, Serif Mardin, Etienne Copeaux, Ilhan Tekeli, and many more. Without most of these references, I believe, a historical analysis of the modern Turkey remains incomplete and unfruitful.
The authors definitely seem to know a significant lot about Turkey and they have a good grasp of the political scene in the country from the start of the Republic. Accordingly, I have found the book successful in presenting chronological information, which is a good contribution. Though having some minor chronological mistakes/typos, this book could be referred as a nice guide for people who have not been to Turkey or have not been exposed to the Turkish culture, of course, given that the personal views of the authors are not taken as granted. Because the ideas asserted in the book are mostly not proven analytically with the tools used by a historian or a political scientist. In this respect, I believe the book stands far from being a serious reference for an academic study.
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