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Turkey: A Short History

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  298 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A virtuoso performance by historian Norman Stone, who has lived and worked in the country since 1997, this concise survey of Turkeys relations with its immediate neighbours and the wider world from the 11th century to the present day. Stone deftly conducts the reader through this story, from the arrival of the Seljuks in Anatolia in the eleventh century to the modern repub ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Thames Hudson (first published March 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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 ·  298 ratings  ·  44 reviews


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Thom Kaife
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this to get a very basic, overall look at the Ottoman Empire up to the current state of the Turkish Republic. To that end, this book was great. However, it was hard to read, too much information, not enough time and space for critical analysis and deeper understanding on certain moments and periods on the history. This led to the book seeming incredibly one-sided on a number of periods particularly around the Armenian Genocide and the Balkan and Greek wars.
Saskia Tralala
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014, history, books-i-own
I'm going to be one of those annoying people and give 2,5 stars, something I've never resorted to. I really had to struggle through the first half of the book. At first I thought it was because I didn't know many names and a lot of the information was new for me (hence the reason I read this in the first place). After a while, some things started to annoy me. First here's the constant references to the ethomology of words. Normaly I find this facinating, but since I don't speak Turkish I could n ...more
Lukas op de Beke
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full of facts, figure-heads, and dates, and yet not at all a long-winded book. The gist, as I understood it, is that the Ottoman Empire, for all its faults (general economic inefficiency, bloated janissary class, weak sultans and power-hungry sultan-mothers, religious superstition, etc.) offered its citizens better quality of life and more tolerance than many nation-states surrounding it. For centuries, Armenians, Greeks and Kurds could be found along with Turks in the innermost circles of power ...more
Eric Randolph
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The scale of concision is absurd, but the delivery - twinkly-eyed old professor chuckling to himself - is as charming as anything I've ever come across.
Hemant
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I had only heard about Ottoman empire and Ataturk before getting this book and wanted to know more about them. Norman Stone tells about these at a very good pace which doesn't let reading be boring. So if you are interested in History or planning to visit Turkey and want to understand more about it quickly, then this is the book for you. Very concise history.
Jacob
Apr 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Pervasive copy editing oversights, obnoxious tangents, and sweeping and elementary analysis of extremely important events and periods. Also, the author denies the Armenian genocide and covers the event in a single page. One would expect a book to provide a bit more insight into the slaughter of 1.5 million of its subject's citizens.
Julieann Wielga
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
If feels like Norman Stone dictated this book. It has a quality of speech, a casualness, but it still has verve. The author is not really thinking about what the reader understands and does not or how to explain things to the reader. Instead, Norman has a lot of Eurasia history in his head and he is bouncing off topics and dates as they come to him willynilly.

I am sure if I sat down with Norman I would find him pompous and pedantic.

That said, I finished the book and immediately went went to the
...more
Sinan
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a Turk and all I love reading about my country from a foreigners point.
Now Norman Stone isn't someone to take lightly he was professor at the University of Oxford, lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher last I hard he is working at one of the best private Turkish Universities (Bilkent Üniversitesi) and has been for about 20 years. Now I don't know how credible this book is but assuming the reputation this writer has (first book of
...more
Simon Eskildsen
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Painted a decent picture of the origins of the Ottoman Empire and its later demise. However, it certainly does not do this in a particularly entertaining way. It was a bit of a slog. What got me through it was the shortness of it (~190 pages), and the desire of building context for an impending trip to Istanbul (although wishing I would've found another resource 90 pages in, but, sunk cost. 🚢)

The Ottoman empire is one of the most successful in history spanning about 500 years. The modern Turks c
...more
Chris Wares
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a big disappointment. I’ve enjoyed other books by Norman Stone and a short history of Turkey was exactly what I was looking to read as my interests have turned south from Hungary towards the medieval history of the Ottomans.

The book is only 180 pages and covers the whole history of the Ottomans / Turks from the founding of the Osmans through to modern day Erdogen. He includes some interesting perspectives such as the parallels between the heavyweight powers of the Ottomans and the
...more
SarahLouise
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
In a word: tedious.
Decided to step out of my comfort zone and read something less familiar and boy do I regret it. My aim was to take the book and become engrossed in the rich and diverse culture, passion and history of turkey and its people. Instead, I feel like i was beaten around the head with jargon, monotone facts, sweeping statements and complexity. Reader be ware...in no way is this 'a short history' of a great nation, although I have to say I admire the authors clear passion and dedicati
...more
Sam S
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathan Hatch
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
What I liked

Stone includes many passing comments to connect the events of the history of Anatolia to other events more familiar in pop culture. For instance, in describing a conflict over Cyprus between Venice and Turkey, he mentions that this is the same conflict featured in Shakespeare's play Othello.

What I did not like

Too short / too ambitious. In a book this brief, Stone should have chosen a much smaller scope. There's not enough detail here to make anything stick, unless you already know a
...more
Diane
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This history presents an overview of Ottoman and Turkish history since the beginning. The author, although an Englishman, has lived in Turkey for over 20 years. He presents the Turkish perspective on many historical controversies well. However, I thought the book provided an excellent introductory history to an expansive topic in an accessible way. The author at the beginning identifies Turkish identity as consisting of Turkish tribal tradition, Islam, Byzantine tradition, and attempts at Wester ...more
Mikkel Tolnaes
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book to get a deeper understanding of Turkey’s history, particularly from the advent of the Ottoman Empire up until Erdogan’s regime today. Although the book covers significant ground in that sense, it is written in an extremely convoluted and erratic way. Nearly every sentence requires a second look and the book is littered with cultural and historical references that are neither remotely well-known nor explained in any detail. I got through the book but that was purely because ...more
Werner Goos
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
thoroughly enjoyed it. as a 'non initiate' in Turkish culture and Turkish history this was a great book. It's more than a mere introduction, it gives true flavour to the country and to Istanbul in particular. Halfway through reading it I visited Istanbul and that made the book all the more worthwhile as it gave interesting and relevant information about how it came to reach this point. Highly recommend the book for first time Turkey enthusiasts
Kaya
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Simply too condensed with unnecessary facts about unrelated events and persons. Unless you have a good pre existing understanding of 1400 history you will be lost amongst the names and characters brought up. The book becomes much more relatable after chapter 6 when the ottoman empire begins to collapse. That being said, as a Turk I enjoyed the frequent side notes explaining the roots of current Turkish or foreign words.
Onurcan
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're a researcher abroad and want to write something on Turkey and Turkish history, all of your work will be incomplete because one simply cannot understand Turkey from outside. Norman Stone is one of the few researchers who had the chance to write Turkey while living in Turkey. This case makes the book more precious and precise. He is a well-known academician in my school (Bilkent University of Ankara) and we're always proud of him.
Lisa
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent overview, conversational and informative. The bibliography is extensive and valuable. A fast read that gives the reader tools to delve into more detail with additional reading, if he/she chooses.
R Chan
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
In an effort to keep the book short, the author had to cut out a lot of details, which made the whole chronology feel a bit jumpy. Difficult to follow at times, especially given the author's affinity to adding anecdotes that are not entirely relevant,
Ainsley
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Well constructed, very readable.
Kamran Sehgal
An interesting foray into the history of a nation that should probably be read more written about than it is. The author's disdainful approach to the Armenian genocide is certainly a downputing part of this book and the constant apologetics towards the Ottoman legacy gives the work a clear ideology. This being said the work is honest about portraying the author's viewpoints which other authors would be more koi in this regard.

Simply put read this book. It is fascinating and reads like a novel
...more
Monty Milne
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a good introduction to Turkey written in a lively style. It is sympathetic to its subject, and a necessary corrective to those like me whose attitude to Turkey has been conditioned by a host of negative stereotypes from the likes of Byron, Gladstone, T E Lawrence, et al.

The big contentious issue is that of the Armenians. Stone doesn't describe the massacres as a Genocide, for which he has been much criticised. When I was a boy, a Turkish architect lived with us for a year, as he was wor
...more
Patrick
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2014-list
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

The challenge of a "short history" or "concise history" is it often tackles sweeping periods of history. Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire takes six volumes. The history of Turkey is no less daunting, and Norman Stone takes on the challenge with verve, reducing centuries of economics, war, rise, decline, and so on to less than 200 pages. Of necessity, much is skimmed or skipped. Suleyman's siege of V
...more
Zubair Habib
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
The book gives a great chronology of the empire, but I found the structure a bit difficult. It seems at times a fact dump rather than a narrative weaved.

Simple takeway: Turkey is a self sufficient but always vulnerable empire. On the fringes there was always vulnerability and conquest, but the core has remained intact.
Skeetor
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
This is a scholarly book that is great as a refresher or reference on the history of Turkey.
I found that the author’s wit dispersed throughout the book served to enhance the historical facts and lighten the text. However, the book itself is more concise than I desired. In an effort to present a lot of information in a short text, some sentences were a little too long with too many clauses. Several times I had to slowly reread sentences
...more
Daniel
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A worthwhile and enjoyable history that isn't boring to read. Norman Stone is opinionated and isn't afraid to let you know if he thinks people were smart or dumb, wise or foolish. He cannot tolerate ignorance and stupidity. He effectively draws together a thousand strands of history as they relate to Turkey, the various peoples, and wars, etc so that you get a feel for its place in the world since they emerged from Central Asia.
The linguistic examples he uses are useful and important- given lan
...more
Dan Shonka
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. Norman Stone does a fine job of summarizing the complex, complicated history of Turkey. It's relatively difficult to keep up with all the players, and Professor Stone's writing is often complicated with too many parenthetical remarks. That being said, his book holds a wealth of information about Turkey, and he illuminates how this pivotal country fits in with their European, Asian, and African neighbors in the present day. Ultimately, Stone's love of ...more
Mark
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This is a very accessible book that covers a very long period of history. Norman Stone presents events in a way that is continually interesting. Although major time periods are covered in a very summarised level, we still get the opportunity to learn about some of the key characters and characteristics that are unique to Turkey. This book is a good stepping stone into studying further on the key events and people of this country.
Janice
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was concise, providing a good picture of Turkey past to present. The author has a wry sense of humor that he uses appropriately and keeps the reading enjoyable. I would have liked a little more on Ataturk but realize the book is "A Short History." Highly recommend the book to history buffs who want to know more about this part of the world. This was a first reads giveaway.
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Norman Stone was a Scottish historian and author, who was a Professor in the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara. He is a former Professor at the University of Oxford, Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

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