ATATURK by Lord Kinross


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This blockbuster by a well-known London journalist (and authentic Lord) is a blow-by-blow biographical study of the soldier-statesman, Mustafa Kemal, who in the first part of the 20th century ""transformed the sprawling old Ottoman Empire into a compact new Turkish Republic."" Mustafa Kemal was born in Salonika in 1881, when the vast Ottoman Empire, tied to outmoded beliefs under an all-powerful Sultan, was slipping into decline. When as dictator of Turkey and calling himself Ataturk (Father Turk) Kemel died in 1938, he had rid his country of Sultans and Caliphs, organized its Parliament, modernized its religion and alphabet, unveiled its women, and snatched the fez from the heads of its men. Kemal fought in interminable Turkish wars: in the Balkans; against the British in Gallipoli and the Dardanelles; in Africa against Italy; against the British and Greeks when, after World War I, Lloyd George tried to dismember Turkey to enhance Greece. In Turkey, as organizer of the Nationalist Movement, Kemal led the revolution against the Sultan and his entrenched court, and made himself dictator. ""No ordinary Turk and no ordinary dictator,"" fair, slight, a heavy drinker and sexually promiscuous, Kemal ""had no lofty ideals ... and few moral principles, only a determination to attain his ends ... which were also somehow his country's."" A man incapable of love except for his country, as Ataturk he became a legend in the country he had created. Incredibly long, overpacked with details, this definitive biography of an astonishing man and his country will appeal to historians of 20th-century European and Middle-Eastern politics. Not for the bedside table.

Publisher: Morrow