Here is a very good piece by Anne Applebaum in Slate about Turkey and the prospect of the Turks leading a peace-keeping force in Afghanistan. The piece is really a paean to Turkish secularism — or rather Kemalism, Turkey’s state ideology, originated by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state.
Talking Points is an ardent Turkophile, for a number of reasons, several of which are touched upon in Applebaum’s piece. I hope to be talking more about this. But for the moment let me just mention a few of what I’ve found to be some of the better books on the topic.
Though I’ve read many, I still haven’t read a really good full-length, single-volume history of Ottoman Turkey — that is, before the fall of the Sultanate and the end of the empire after World War I. Many of the ones I’ve read either treat the topic with a fanciful exoticism or just end up rattling off Sultans in a less than edifying or satisfying way.
But let me recommend one truly excellent book on the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition by Norman Itzkowitz. At a bit more than one hundred pages, you can easily dash it off in one sitting. But it’s elegantly written, marvelously concise, and provides an excellent overview of a whole epoch of Islamic history, as well as some crucial history of Turkey. Another good read is Andrew Mango’s recent biography of Ataturk, entitled, appropriately enough Ataturk.
Hopefully, more on this soon.