ATATURK by Andrew Mango


The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey
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Turkish author Mango (Turkey: The Challenge of a New Role, 1994) draws upon official archives and international sources

to piece together a substantial biography of the father of modern Turkey.

The "Young Turk" Mustafa Kemal Ataturk rose to prominence fighting the Allies in WWI, distinguishing himself at Gallipoli

and Syria and outpacing his rivals to take command of the armed forces. But it was his shrewd, patient politics that made him

the savior of his defeated country, as he pitted the overextended Allied occupiers against themselves and eventually drove out

the French, the British, the tenacious Italians, and—worst of all from the Turkish point of view—the Greeks. Under Ataturk’s

direction, the moribund Ottoman Empire (which in the 17th century had extended to the very gates of Vienna but by the outbreak

of WWI was renowned as the "Sick Man of Europe") gave way to a modern parliamentary state. Ruthless, certainly, and vain

(but also logical, idealistic, and visionary), Ataturk took steps to revive a war-ravaged economy, consolidated his decimated

military, extended suffrage to women, and advocated the equal treatment under the law of Greek and Jewish minorities. Though

Turkey is heavily Islamic, he insisted upon the separation of church and state. In his revolutionary zeal Ataturk sometimes brought

to mind the excesses of the French Revolution—he banned fezzes and turbans, for instance, and mandated the adoption of

European-style hats—but he modernized and stabilized Turkey, and there is an active cult devoted to him among his countrymen


Mango barrages the reader with details, yet he is never dry. He paints an admiring portrait of a political genius and, in the

process, goes a long way in explaining why history has caused Greeks to hate Turks, Turks to hate Greeks, and the citizens of

Bosnia-Herzegovina to hate just about everybody.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-58567-011-1
Page count: 666pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2000


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