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Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  680 ratings  ·  108 reviews
If Turkey lived up to its potential, it could rule the world - but will it? A passionate report from the front lines

For centuries few terrors were more vivid in the West than fear of "the Turk," and many people still think of Turkey as repressive, wild, and dangerous. Crescent and Star is Stephen Kinzer's compelling report on the truth about this nation of contradictions -
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 22nd 2001)
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I was equal parts enthralled and frustrated by this book. Kinzer clearly loves Turkey. He adores it. He sees how insanely fucked up it is, but loves it anyway. While he is not an apologist for for the essentially military-run government, he deftly puts it into a perspective in a way only a person who is both an insider and an outsider can, which as a whole makes certain events (like the military coups) much more understandable in post-Ataturk Turkey.
However, he on occasion comes off as the lectu
Regina Lindsey
Crescent and Star by Stephen Kinzer
4.5 Stars Rounded to 5

I’ve always had a fascination with Turkey. It is at the crossroads of so much history. Geographically, it straddles two continents and it known as “the place where East meets West.” Its religious history is unique and it is one of the few countries in which democracy is evolving out of a former dictatorship. It is simply a country full of dichotomies. Yet, it is a country that hesitates to fully embrace its rich past in order to continue i
Henna Paakkonen-Alvim
Kinzers book is a wonderful read to understand Turkish 20th century history and politics and the challenges that the country has faced and faces in being in the crossroads of Europe and Middle East, with multiple ethnicities and religions. The book basically covers the period from Ataturk to Erdogan, discusses Kemalism, the Army, Religion, Kurdish problems, Armenian past, and the democratization challeges. Turkeys strive for EU membership and the changing foreign policy of country are also cover ...more
Stephen Kinzer is an ex-New York Times correspondent who has written about many parts of the world, while based in locations as varied as Nicaragua, Berlin and Istanbul, the latter two as bureau chief. He has covered Central America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Turkey, Africa … -- in short, he's been around.

I picked up this book because I read one of his previous efforts, Blood of Brothers, while travelling through Nicaragua in 2008. Daniel Ortega had just been re-elected, and the book dea
So, finally I am done. Please do not mistake the great length of time I took to complete this book to mean anything other than I awful at managing time as of late...this was a great read. As someone who visited Turkey and read a handful of fictional literature about the great city of Istanbul and life under the Ottoman Empire this book wove together a bunch of missing facts and political details I was otherwise unaware of.

It is obvious the author is passionately in love with this county, he is
Written in the very early 21st century, this book combines 20th century history with current politics to give the reader a history and contemporary view of Turkey. The author has spent many years in the country as a journalist, and he clearly has a great love of his subject. He serves as a major booster for the country. Since this book was written 10 years ago, much of the contemporary information is dated, but Kinzer has done a good job of predicting future trends. Many of the author's predicti ...more
This is the second Kinzer book I've read. He's a talented writer who brings his subject to life with a clear, direct, active style.

In both books I've read, Crescent and Star and All the Shah's Men (about the US/British overthrow of the Mossadegh government in Iran), Kinzer turns potentially dry subjects into page-turners.

Perhaps as a by-product of his accessible style, Kinzer arrives at simplistic solutions. In Crescent and Star, the overall thesis is that the founders of the Turkish Republic we
Crescent and Star is probably a bit basic for anyone who's familiar with Turkish politics and 20th century history, but I found it a great sub-250 page introduction. It focuses almost exclusively on the Turkish Republic and its people, from Ataturk to the present, but not at all in chronological order. I don't know how objective this book is, as the author, a American journalist, spends plenty of words criticizing (berating?) the military and its omnipresent role in government. But you might, to ...more
Abraham Gustavson
I read this book in preparation to going on spring holiday to Turkey. Stephen Kinzer does an excellent job prepping his readers to both understand modern issues in that country, but also peppers his work with small, almost journal like entries that bring this truly unique modern country alive. One short to be remembered was the author's retelling of when he swam the Bosporous straight and the extraordinary feeling of being connected to both Asia and Europe. Kinzer provides ample amount of detail ...more
I'll be living in Turkey this summer, and I decided to pick up Stephen Kinzer's book to prime myself on the country's political situation/basic history. The book is a decent primer, and while I give it credit for this, it's just not that fantastic overall. Stephen Kinzer does this extremely awkward balancing act by alternating chapters in which he praises Turkish culture as relaxed and ideal, and then leads a Western-centric assault on everything about the government immediately afterwards. It i ...more
This is the most informative book I have yet found of Turkish history/politics/et cetera. For this reason, I approve.
The two worlds here of the title are that west and east divide that much of world politics consists of: west being new-age and east being old-world. Uh oh, I'm not awake...

*shuts eyes, counts to thirty, returns*

OK, I am sick, so I must get to sleep now. (My illness probably is eating at my opinion of this book.) But, I want to promote it!
If this area and its people are included
Stephen Kinzer was a journalist who lived in Turkey for a long time and his book has personal impressions as well as interesting political commentary and historical perspective. Great read in preparation for my trip to Turkey in a few months.
Selcuk dönmez
You insult turkish people all over the world, turk state, everything that made up my people. Stop this.
Stephen kinzer doesnt know anything about my country, and people. So who are you that saying about turkisness. According to you turk isnt etnic people. It is only common name that given by Atatürk.

"We are turk nomads. We are Yoruk, Turkmen, Turkic people. We have several state and the last one Turkey Repeblic will live forever. Atatürk says that "One day my mortal body will turn to dust, but
Justin Tapp
Read this in preparation for going to Turkey in August. Kinzer is a former NY Times correspondent who has written several books. Seems like he is a good journalist who learned the language and culture very well and was granted access to important figures.

One passage from his inter-chapter interludes got me particularly excited, Kinzer talks about the countless historically and archeologically significant sites that no one even knows about:

"Even the discovered sites are so remote and widely scat
Mar 03, 2014 Alec rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: blog
When digesting Stephen Kinzer's book, "Crescent and Star," the reader may feel that Turkey is much like the exotic spice bazaars in Istanbul lovingly described by the author. Like those clamorous bazaars, the land of Atatürk is an iconoclastic milieu of both ancient and modern in which the denizens loudly haggle among themselves about the direction their country should go. This spirited debate on a national level – as well its chaotic uncertainty – underscores every chapter and, in the eyes of K ...more
Kinzer is a great writer and a good storyteller. He alternates cultural mini-chapters with more analytical writing in Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds. As a Turk who was heavily brainwashed with the "official history of the country during and post-Ataturk", there is much I can and should read, and this book is a good starting point. I can write a whole other book as a response to Kinzer's very insightful study, but for the most part I agree with the bulk of his criticisms and analyse ...more
Kinzer was a foreign correspondent for the NY Times who lived in Turkey for several years and who clearly has a deep and abiding affection for the country. For my money (and, after just one trip of two and a half weeks to Turkey, albeit intense, I am anything but an expert), he does a good job of deconstructing the puzzle that is the Turkish Republic: militantly secular and yet deeply Islamic, attached to its traditions but determined to modernize, unable to decide if it is a multi-ethnic state ...more
An interesting read if only because Kinzer is tending to approach Turkey from a Turkey-is-European (or at least proto-European) than a Turkey-is-fundamentally-different standpoint. I worry that Kinzer is eliding some important differences even though he does do a fine job of balancing his viewpoint.

As with any book written about a country by a non-native, I also worry about his pile of "reccomendations" for Turkey, and am concerned that his obvious pro-Europe slant is coloring his perceptions of
Finally! A political, historical, and cultural book that is not written by the likes of bored, mindless, uncreative drones at McGraw Hill! I absolutely love social science/historical books that aren't written in your typical textbook format. The book was certainly thorough and interesting; I lived in Turkey for quite some time and felt myself reliving some of those moments by the pictures painted by Kinzer throughout his book.

There were some things that I did question (I have it noted in the ma
I picked this up based on the recommendations of Goodreads users. I was hoping for a good history of modern Turkey, and instead found a journalistic sketch of the country. I was not impressed. Bouncing around between history, contemporary politics (circa early 2001), and light observations of Turkish life, Kinzer spends a good deal of time scolding the Turks for failing to fully embrace democracy. The word "should" appears prominently in each chapter, and I found this to be both distasteful and ...more
A readable and consistently interesting short introduction to current political trends and issues in Turkey. Kinzer was the NYT's Istanbul bureau chief in the late 90s and his strong affection for the country comes through on every page as he lucidly and concisely walks you through fascinating twists and turns from Ataturk to Erdogan.

Turkey is in a remarkable political moment, with an Islamist government gently but firmly prying the military's fingers off of the political machinery, and democra
Great information. I felt like the book could have been a 5 if Stephen had kept to a chronological order. For the most part he did, but he jumped back and forth from the 1980's through 2007. It left me feeling disoriented about the present state of Turkey. His last chapter attempted to show the present state of Turkey, but Stephen again left me feeling like Turkey is on the brink of disaster and also so close to becoming what it has desired to be for so long. That is probably the intended effect ...more
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Ann Oliveri
This book provides context to appreciate the complexity and extraordinary history of this place. It is invaluable in wrapping your head and heart around it. Turkish friends told me on my first visit that this author gets it right.
Another really good book by Kinzer. Though not as exciting and engaging as "All The Shah's Men", it is still very interesting and informative.

Turkey is a fascinating country stuck between two worlds and Kinzer does a great job of relaying the history and culture of the only Islamic European nation. The political structure in Turkey is very unique and Kinzer skillfully explains the history and the ideology behind it. The chapters on Kemal Ataturk and on Turkey's tumultuous relationship with Gre
Jana Hawley
A fabulous book to better understand current Turkey politics. I wish I had finished it before i was in Turkey this summer.
Read it before you go!
Fusun Dulger charles
Great book if iyi want to understand Turkey, it's people and politics.
I am Turkish, very involved in politics and found it most insightful.
Kinzer was a NY Times correspondent to Istanbul and lived there 6 years. His writing is compellilng and concise. He describes the current culture and political structure of Istanbul, and much of TUrkey, within an historical context. Turkey is a very important nation, geographically, with eight borders - Bulgaria, Iraq Iran, syria, Kazakstan, Armenia, Georgia, and Greece and has two major seas, the Meditteranean and Black Seas. Istanbul has been the prize for kings, sultans and rulers for hundred ...more
Tobin Fricke
This is a great little introduction to modern turkey, written by someone who was the New York Times bureau chief in Istanbul for a few years. It is full of enthusiasm for Turkey, and covers the basics: who was Atatürk, what has happened since then, lite coverage of the Armenian genocide, and the Kurdish insurrection. Between these chapters are more personal chapters (written entirely in italics for some reason) about the authors experiences and adventures in Turkey (such as swimming across the B ...more
Rakıdan Atatürk'e, Cumhuriyet'in arkasında bir tehdit gibi dalgalanan Osmanlı'nın hayaletinden, imparatorluklar batırmış bir toplum olmanın psikopatolojisine kadar Türkiye'ye dair her şey, Türkiye'ye dışarıdan bakabilmiş bu usta yazarın satırlarında gizli.

Yıllarını Türkiye'de geçirmiş bu usta gazetecinin, bizi bizden çok daha iyi anlatan kitabına dair tek eksiklik bence, 2002 yılında basılan Türkçesinin son 10 yılda yaşananları içermemesi.

Türk bir okur olarak Kinzer'in Türkiye'nin AK Parti ikti
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Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. His articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him "among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling." (source)
More about Stephen Kinzer...
All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles & Their Secret World War A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future

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