CRESCENT AND STAR: Turkey Between Two Worlds

Stephen Kinzer, Author
Stephen Kinzer, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-13143-2
Reviewed on: 06/11/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-374-52866-9
Ebook - 259 pages - 978-0-374-70228-1
Ebook - 259 pages - 978-0-374-70226-7
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-374-53140-9
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-7939-9
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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 Atatürk's post-WWI establishment of the modern secular Turkish state; the odd makeup of contemporary society, in which the military enforces Atatürk'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 naïve, solution: the ruling military elite, which takes power when it feels Turkey is threatened, must follow the modernizing path of Atatürk—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. (Sept.)

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