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Turkey Unveiled Hardcover – November 1, 1998
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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
...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
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Editorial mistakes apart (and there are plenty of those. See below for an initial list) there are factual mistakes which leaves the reader wondering what to believe and what not to believe. As an "icing on the cake" there are reviews given on the back cover which depicts as if it is one of the best books on Turkish history. One is left wondering how much was paid to the reviewers to write those accolades when no one in their true professional honesty can ignore the errors in this work.
So here is a list of errors which I noted before I gave up (from the 2011 Paperback Edition):
Page 127, paragraph 1, the author mentions that the U-2 plane, flown by Gary Powers in 1962, took off from Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. In fact, Gary Powers took off from Badaber Airbase in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Page 112, last paragraph: "... Cyprus had become a British crown colony in 1954 In 1954, the Greek government..." [missing full stop]
Page 134, fourth paragraph: "Aware as always of .their self-appointed role..." [Extra full stop]
Page 135, second paragraph: "Arid in the East" [Should be "And in the East"]
Page 144, line 3: "Prime Minister Demirel had decided to upset the army's usual system, of promotion..." [extra comma]
Page 149, second paragraph: "...marked die beginning..." [Should be "..marked the beginning..."]
Page 149, third paragraph: "...explaining to the work..." [Should be "...explaining to the world..."]
Page 162, fourth paragraph: "... Ozal simply flew to the. United States." [ extra fullstop]
Page 175, first paragraph: "In the twenty four years between 1954 and 1980..." [ There are 26 years between 1954 and 1980, not 24]
Page 183, third paragraph: "... assured that Turkey was given a good seat as an observer EU defense mechanisms, to take more account of Turkey's importance..." [No idea what kind of English is this!!!]
Page 184, second paragraph: "...the Middle Eastern baroque furniture in the drawing room. favored by older and wealthier Turks,..." [extra full stop in the middle of the sentence]
Page 185, last line: "...and whose culture dominated, the late Ottoman and early republican elites." [extra comma in the middle of the sentence]
Page 189, third paragraph: "...after Ozal's initial application, there was long little real Turkish pressure to open negotiations on the point..." [ Long little real pressure?]
Page 208, second paragraph: " this was followed in late 1990 by the devastating effects on Turkish patterns of trade of the Gulf War." [Not exactly sure what the author is trying to say here in this sentence. It is simply bad English composition]
Page 215, third paragraph: "... had no long term plan other than its tactical objective active in Kuwait ." [Once again poor English composition]
I wish Popes could be a little more objective in their views. Otherwise this could have been a great book. Certain chapters or sections were so opiniated that I could not bear to read further
However, I saw much better exemples of this kind of "journalistic account" books such as the "The Turks" by David Hotham (published 40 years ago), or the recent Crescent and Star by Kinzer. I think Mango's The Turks Today is the best, altough Mango prefer to not deal with some "sensitive" subjects.
Popes' book is heavily biased, especially in some parts. Their style remembers me some orientalist authors who were against the idea of modernization of the east. Still, some people are disapointed by discovering a modernizing country in Turkey, instead of an oriental one, where people ride camels while girls are doing belly-dancing. So I call this type of text "neo-orientalistic".
Another point is, just as it is with some other foreign journalists working in Turkey (especially french), they still think in terms (and paradigms) of the country from where they are; and they are tended to suggest "solutions" for everything. Their country is the correct one, and others are "deviations". When reading Turkey Unveiled, you can see that the authors can't stop seeing things that way. So they just misundertand some important facts and make very subjective comments. That's what french call "donneur de leçon" attitude ("lesson-giver").
Another very important point: yes there is a bibliography at the end but almost no references inside !!! We can't understand if what they wrote is from a real source or just a rumor.
ATTENTION ATTENTION ATTENTION SECOND "REVIEW" ADDED
Dear Amazon Users,
I decided to write a second "review" in order to get your attention to the following facts:
1) Most of the positive reviews like "...I didn't read the book yet but I will definitely buy it" are ANONYMOUS !!!
2) A person has 2 separate positive reviews, one on this page, the other at the page two (click "next" to see)
I believe this 2 and most of the other (+) reviews are just advertisement. I suspect that the person who managed wrote 2 reviews is probably a friend of the authors.
You can think and say what you want about Turkey and Turks, but please try to read serious authors : (in English) Feroz Ahmad, Eric Zürcher, Ersin Kalaycioglu, Caglar Keyder, Tim Jacoby, William Hale (in French) Paul Dumont, François Georgeon, Stephanos Yerasimos, Jean Paul Burdy, Semih Vaner, Jean Paul Roux...
Yes some are turkish but non of these are "Turkish-lovers" and they don't hide their critics about a lot of issues including armenian massacres, cyprus, kurdish question, human rigths and democratization issues...
Read and decide by yourself !
----------------------- December 2010 Update-------------------------------------------------
4 years after my first comment, I'm still defending the same point of view about this book. I regret to have given more than 25 USD to it; and I'm asking the same question again: WHY ALL THE POSITIVE COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SIGNED BY " A CUSTOMER" (anonymous user) ??? WHY THOSE WHO SEEM TO BE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THIS MASTERPIECE DO NOT WRITE THEIR NAMES DOWN???
CAVEAT EMPTOR !
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century, just as modern Turkey was being formed and defined.Read more