- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Revised edition (September 16, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374531404
- ISBN-13: 978-0374531409
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #750,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds Revised Edition
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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.
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Top customer reviews
The dedication of this revised version (‘To the People of Turkey’) signals that Kinzer writes 51aed7hll-_sx331_bo1204203200_from the heart and with affection rather than from the discipline and precision one expects of the historian. This is not a criticism of Kinzer’s formidable work but rather an attempt to define its genre. Those who came to Kinzer’s writing—as this reviewer did—through his superb treatment of the Nicaraguan conflicts (The Blood of Brothers) will anticipate the bent of Kinzer’s method.
Kinzer, the erstwhile Istanbul Bureau Chief of the New York Times, does not hold back his own views and even prescriptions for the nation that has become his subject. The book’s earliest pages telegraph this. Published in 2008, the book’s introduction observes that ‘(A) new regime has emerged in Turkey that is likely to govern for years to come. This is good, because this regime draws its strength from the people’s will, but it is also disturbing.’ The first chapter’s opening line introduces us to a personal preference: ‘My favorite word in Turkish is istiklal.’
This is not a bad thing, for Turkey and ‘the Turk’ have been referents of oddness and even incarnate evil for Westerners since Medieval times. A Western writer who can be forthrightly described as turkophile is well placed to be a sympathetic and even accurate guide into this unfamiliar people and its complicated composition. For Western observers—as for the Turks themselves—ambiguities abound: Is Turkey a Middle Eastern country? Or is it European? Is Turkey Muslim? Or secular? Is the nation comprised of a single ethnicity that represents turkishness? Or is Turkey a composite state with large and venerable minorities whose adherence to the national mythology is tenuous?
Kinzer’s introduction of many of Turkey’s hard-wired enigmas is often channeled through a conversation with one friend or another. This adds an appealing personal hook for the non-expert reader (a group to which this reviewer manifestly belongs). The author effectively personalizes issues that are difficult to grasp in the abstract.
One emerges from Crescent and Star impressed with several facets of Turkey’s challenges and opportunities that are not independently unique, but that—in combination—profile Turkey as an exceptional nation.
First, one senses that events of the 20th and 21st century have left Turkey a conflicted nation. The coming to terms with its past has been uneven, leaving the Turks deeply divided as to the answers to difficult questions and even to the degree to which those questions can be permitted consideration. For example, what exactly happened to the Armenians? What would Turkey’s heroic paterfamilias, Ataturk, think of Turkey’s governing Islamic party?
Second, Turkey oscillates between a xenophobia that was for generations practically prescribed and a longing to join and be respected among the community of nations. A deeply existential variation of this theme turns on the place in the world outside of Turkey’s boundaries in which the nation most naturally belongs. Is it the complex of Muslim nations in its neighborhood? Or is Turkey’s belonging place rather the frustrating and often humiliating European family?
Third, who are the appropriate custodians of Turkey’s identity and well-being? Is it the generals, who have stepped in ‘to restore order’ so often as to constitute in some minds a backstop against political and cultural experimentation gone wrong? Or is it the Turkish people more generally, their will channeled through democratic process? Or ought trust in the guidance of Islamic centers of guidance be the nation’s modus operandi, no matter how ‘undemocratic’ this option might turn out to be?
Fourth, what is to be expected of Turkey’s minorities, preeminently the Kurds? Can a stateless people whose population straddles multiple nations in the region be entrusted with the challenge of becoming one component of a Turkish state? Or is independence—and therefore separation from and rebellion against the Turkish state—an irremediable instinct that must be suppressed? And who gets to say? Kurds or non-Kurds? And if Kurds, which ones?
The mere partial enumeration of these questions shines a light on the appropriateness of the book’s subtitle: Turkey Between Two Worlds. The phrase is patient of more than one application.
Turkey emerges from Kinzer’s wide-ranging description as a country between. As I write this review eight years after the publication of Crescent and Star’s 2008 revision of a 2001 original, news of a failed coup and the suppression of dissent with which it has been met have barely faded from the front pages. A 2nd revision would doubtless add even further texture and color to the nation’s between-ness.
But Stephen Kinzer has moved on to other things, and it would would be too much to ask of him a life-long chronicling of Turkey’s wrestlings with its betweens.
What he has given us is an impressionistic portrait of a nation that can confuse, but can also be loved, a people that is in the midst of drafting its own future, a state that must decide the purpose toward which it governs, a place and a people of disturbing beauty.
The discussion of modern Turkey's "father" Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in this book is very helpful in giving insight to the massive changes this society has undergone and why there is now backlash by conservatives on one side, and opponents to some of Erdogan's programs and methods on the other.
A well done analysis and a good read.