Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire

Caroline Finkel, Author . Basic $35 (704p) ISBN 978-0-465-02396-7

What Finkel calls the "old" narrative of the Ottoman Empire is simple to relate: "it rose, declined, and fell." An exotic parade of salacious sultans, grand viziers and duplicitous eunuchs inhabit the sultry harems and domed palaces of Istanbul—at least in our imaginations. Finkel, a long-time resident of Turkey and Ottoman scholar, relates a "new" narrative of empire that properly accounts for the richness and complexity of the Ottoman state over nearly seven centuries. By presiding over their multiethnic empire for so long, and ushering it from medievalism to modernity, the Ottomans should be ranked alongside the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs, she argues. That they are overlooked is the fault of Western historians who have peered at their subjects through the lens of their own prejudices. Finkel's striking innovation is to turn a mirror on the Ottomans and examine how they saw themselves and their empire. While this approach yields a refreshingly original perspective, Finkel's quest to improve Westerners' understanding occasionally leads her into some questionable stretches (an implication, for instance, that Westerners think all Muslims are terrorists). Happily, these remain unintrusive and this history makes a riveting and enjoyable read for all audiences. 16 pages of photos; maps. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/19/2005
Release date: 02/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 674 pages - 978-0-7195-6112-2
Paperback - 660 pages - 978-0-465-02397-4
Open Ebook - 704 pages - 978-0-465-00850-6
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