"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, November 14, 2016

If a Sultan Falls in an Ottoman Forest, Does Anybody Hear It?

This summer, I discussed a recent and quite splendid study of the sunset of the Ottoman Empire in the context of and as a result of the First World War. That book, by Eugene Rogan, has already achieved a number of honours and accolades, and rightly so.

In a similar vein, another study by Ryan Gingeras, released in May, renews our focus on this period of imperial collapse and the loss of the sultanate. Published by Oxford University Press, and coming in at 288pp., this study, Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire, 1908-1922, looks fascinating indeed.

About it, the publisher tells us:
The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was by no means a singular event. After six hundred years of ruling over the peoples of North Africa, the Balkans and Middle East, the death throes of sultanate encompassed a series of wars, insurrections, and revolutions spanning the early twentieth century. This volume encompasses a full accounting of the political, economic, social, and international forces that brought about the passing of the Ottoman state. In surveying the many tragedies that transpired in the years between 1908 and 1922, Fall of the Sultanate explores the causes that eventually led so many to view the legacy of the Ottomans with loathing and resentment.
The volume provides a retelling of this critical history as seen through the eyes of those who lived through the Ottoman collapse. Drawing upon a large gamut of sources in multiple languages, Ryan Gingeras strikes a critical balance in presenting and interpreting the most impactful experiences that shaped the lives of the empire's last generation. The story presented here takes into account the perspectives of the empire's diverse population as well as the leaders who piloted the state to its end. In surveying the personal, communal, and national struggles that defined Italy's invasion of Libya, the Balkan War, the Great War, and the Turkish War of Independence, Fall of the Sultanate presents readers with a fresh and comprehensive exposition of how and why Ottoman imperial rule ended in bloodshed and disillusionment.

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