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Plague, Quarantines and Geopolitics in the Ottoman Empire 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0748646593
ISBN-10: 0748646590
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Editorial Reviews


"One of the great strengths of the book is its effort to show the overlap between Ottoman and early modern European responses to the plague. Bulmus is able to point to striking similarities between Ottoman and European references to cabbalistic, talismanic, and astrological understandings of plague."-- Michael Christopher Low, Columbia University, Review of Middle East Studies

About the Author

Birsen Bulmus is Assistant Professor at the Appalachian State University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press; 1 edition (April 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0748646590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0748646593
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.7 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,034,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I deducted one star in my rating because of the price. I cannot divine why it is so costly. It is an ordinary hardcover, not a fancy leather bound rarity. The book contains a lot of good information. The author discusses various diseases and the reactions of theologians, physicians, politicians, and business leaders. They all have a different approach to the problems over the centuries.
Theologians quote holy book passages to support their side of the debate, while physicians use facts, science, and their experience. Business leaders oppose any measure that will hurt the bottom line, and politicians try to not offend everyone. These have not changed over the centuries.
The narrative runs from the 1400s to 1923. It took the Ottoman Empire authorities almost 400 years to build an immigrant quarantine site in their capital city of Constantinople. During those centuries, epidemics came and went with regularity. The author explains the interactions of all players in telling why it took so long to do the obvious to fight diseases.
Muslims on both sides of the debate quoted the Quran. It is God's Will that epidemics kill people. It is God's Will if you live or die. It is God's Will if people take steps to eradicate disease. The same arguments were seen in Europe between Christians. The difference was the Europeans took corrective action quicker.
Sanitation reforms finally began in 1838 at the urging of Europeans hoping to improve business prospects in the empire. Measures such as sewage disposal, clean water systems, immigrant quarantine, and better building codes aimed at preventing disease were begun after much debate and fierce resistance from the local citizens. The opponents were leery of government interference in their private lives and perceived religious transgressions.
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