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A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691134529
ISBN-10: 0691134529
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Editorial Reviews


"There are many fine insights in this short book. It is no surprise that many relate to political hypocrisy, since Hanioglu is well known for his studies of the Young Turk political movement. But he also offers often-illuminating discussions of cultural changes, mainly those of the Ottoman official and middle strata."--Choice

"[T]his book raises a series of new questions and calls for developing new approaches and ideas to analyze the last Ottoman century and understand better the rise of national states in the Balkans and the Middle East, especially Turkey. . . . In short, this is a thought-provoking book and I recommend it highly."--Kemal H. Karpat, American Historical Review

"Forgoing 'the worn-out paradigms of modernization and Westernization,' Hanioglu opts instead for a consideration of Ottoman responses to the challenge of modernity. . . . [This book] is a pleasure to read."--Kate Fleet, Journal of Islamic Studies

"The Ottoman Empire was the longest-lived regional regime in the Middle East since antiquity; it was also the most recent, and left enduring traces. ?ükrü Hanio?lu's A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire is a major contribution to the better understanding of the region. His account is based on intimate knowledge of the Ottoman archives, as well as of many other sources, both internal and external. Concerned with trends more than events, this book illuminates the ideas and movements that shaped the course of history."--Bernard Lewis, Middle East Strategy at Harvard

"This timely history is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the legacy left in the ruins of the empire--a legacy the world still grapples with today."--Turkish Daily News

"A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the legacy left in this empire's ruins--a legacy the world still grapples with today."--Spartacus Educational

"A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire deserves only unqualified praise. It is well written and comprehensive in its coverage--with diplomatic, economic and intellectual history interacting."--Peter Clark, Asian Affairs

"In all, this is a fine effort well worth reading for its valuable background to WWI, to the politics of modern Turkey and the other Ottoman successor states. Its maps are particularly useful."--Len Shurtleff, Listening Post

"[T]o readers familiar with the Ottoman Empire through the Balkans, A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire is especially commendable as a fresh introduction to a bygone view from Istanbul."--Seth C. Elder, Balkanalysis

"Hanioglu's seminal work presents a true spring of ideas not only for the late Ottoman history but also for the search of some earlier East Roman and Byzantine interplays of structures and identities."--Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Sehepunkte

"A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire is a recommendable book to the specialist and novice alike. It would also appeal to public readership as a fine sample of international history."--Nur Bilge Criss, Turkish Studies

"The strength of A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire is its view of the late Ottoman Empire both from the imperial inside as well as from a reflective and inspiring historical distance. This concise book is very appropriate for general history classes."--Hans-Lukas Kieser, H-Net Reviews

"Without a doubt or reservation, this brief history is must reading for scholars and students of Ottoman history, and the author is to be commended for his excellent approach to the study of this period, for this reviewer cannot think of any other scholar better equipped intellectually to analyze and place it in the proper perspective for a meaningful understanding of this critical phase of an empire on the verge of disintegration."--Caesar E. Farah, Historian

"Historians and general readers embarking on an introduction to the Ottoman Empire could do far worse than to start with M. Sükrü Hanio?lu's A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire. Concise, well-written, and narrative, it nonetheless successfully revises decades of misconceptions about the Ottoman Empire, creating a new model for our understanding of this long-lived system. The author presents several key arguments worth presenting. He encourages his readers to move beyond previous interpretations of Ottoman history, including the perception of the empire as a decrepit and dynastic straitjacket for nationalisms."--Wayne H. Bowen, Canadian Journal of History

From the Inside Flap

"Without doubt the best history of the development of political ideas in the late Ottoman Empire. Haniogluu situates this history of ideas in the context of the political and diplomatic history of the empire as well as in the history of European political thought, of which he demonstrates a deep knowledge."--Erik J. Zürcher, author of Turkey: A Modern History

"A significant contribution, not only to the historiography of the late Ottoman Empire but also to the field of comparative studies of empires."--Fikret Adanir, coeditor of The Ottomans and the Balkans

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691134529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691134529
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,516,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By doc peterson VINE VOICE on August 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Admittedly this book is written for a narrow audience; to Hanioglu's credit he neither talks over the heads of readers, nor does he water-down the material. The book is at once informative, detailed, richly cited drawing from an abundance of primary sources, and discusses not only the political decline of the Ottoman Empire, but also the social, economic and intellectual components of its last two centuries.

The introduction provided an excellent summary of the politically untenable situation the Ottoman Empire found itself: as the nation states of Europe were beginning to assert themselves and the technological fruits of the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution were beginning to ripen, the Ottoman leadership recognized its place in the sun was slipping. The remaining 200 pages discusses in elaborate detail with crystal clarity the myriad attempts made by successive Sultans to modernize and save the Empire. In a nutshell, these efforts failed because of equal parts internal resistance (from the Janisaries, the ulama, from regional powers) and external interference (Britain in particular does not come off very well.) I was especially impressed with the way in which complex inter-relationships (between social / economic classes, internal politics and international policies, international trade, intellecutal challenges and policies aimed at reforming and modernizing) were broken down into digestible pieces, their connections clearly stated, and the long-term results shown. This is no easy feat.

I do regret that more attention was not given the final decade of the Ottoman Empire: the emergence of the Young Turks, the Second Constitutional Period, and the partitioning of the empire among Britain and France. For those seeking a detailed and accessable history of the attempts at reforming the Ottoman Empire, this is the most authoritative and detailed text on the subject to date.
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Format: Paperback
An astonishingly well written informative book. Hanioglu gives us an inside view of the tensions between the centralized power of the Sultanate and that of the periphery. Superficially there was one law and one template for governance howeve large distances, poor lines of communication, local politics and customs lead to vast differences in implementation. In most cases, after the local warlords had taken their cut, taxation remittances flowed from the periphery to the centre - the exception being the region of Mecca where tribute flowed the other way in order to maintain the support of the Sherifians and confer legitimacy on the Sultan as Calif as he was not a descendant of Mohammed.

Militarily from the late 1700s on Turkey had done poorly in its military engagements with Russia and turned towards Europe both for allies and for guidance in modernizing its armed forces. These changes are resented by the Janissaries and Sultan Selim III is slain in a coup in 1807. Selim's cousin Mahmud II is installed as his replacement and he manages a conservative rule for the next 3 decades. In this period there is also an interesting description of British ambassador Stratford Canning from 1810 to 1858, known as "the little Sultan", who was said to have wielded more influence than most Grand Viziers and foreign ministers.

In Egypt Mehmed Ali (an Albanian) amasses a large army and suppresses a Wahabist revolt in Arabia (1811-18) and the Greek rebellion (1824-27) and establishes a powerbase, nominally subservient to the empire. In 1832 he pushes further east into Palestine and Mahmud resorts to an alliance both with Russia to restore the status quo in return a promise to close the Bosphorus to Russia's adversaries in the event of war.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent summary of nineteenth century Ottoman History. The author relies entirely on primary material which he assembles masterfully. The book deals with political, social, cultural, and economic aspects of the Ottoman Empire, and offers fresh insights. The book presents well-balanced views, supported by solid evidence and sound interpretation, even in the most controversial aspects of the late Ottoman history. For a historian, non-historian, or anyone interested in the history of Ottoman Empire, Turkey, or Middle East, this is a great read and a reference book. I recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover
The main event dates back a century, the revolt of the Young Turks, and the chosen time covers almost two and a half centuries, the late Ottoman Empire. Surveying its history, Princeton's scholar M. Sükrü Hanioglu proposes a new approach how to integrate the knowledge of multiple subfields into a more general framework. Before his method and conclusions are touched here, a word about the contents. Finally follow two thoughts.

M. Sükrü Hanioglu, who became well known also by his book on the "Young Turks In Opposition" (Oxford 1995), outlines six chapters between introduction and conclusion for events from 1798 to 1918. At first he deals with the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the nineteenth century. Then he discusses in the next two parts the initial Ottoman responses to the challenge of modernity and the dawn of the reform age. The remaining three parts shed light on the Tanzimat era, the Hamidian regime and the longest decade of the late Ottoman Empire from revolution to imperial collapse. Hanioglu's tips for further reading in major European languages are very helpful as well as the bibliography and index.

Regarding narrative and methods, the author emphasizes historical trends and processes more than single events. This makes his book an outstanding and interesting read for the students and general public. Solidly based on the author's gleaning of major imperial and other archives and on his rich insights into the Afro-Asian and European history, his aim is not the usual happiness of a historian about dozens of more details in the great Ottoman mosaic. Rather he walks a golden path on ridges in the hilly landscapes filled with valleys of details.

Hanioglu underscores four principal dimensions.
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