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Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  954 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan, and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923, fast creating his own legend.

Andrew Man
Paperback, 666 pages
Published August 26th 2002 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1999)
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Ataturk is a hard man to sum up. A brilliant leader, a supporter of the Enlightenment and an enemy of religious obscurantism, he managed to drag Turkey by the scruff of its neck into the modern era and create the basis for a semi-European society there. He was more responsible than anyone for preserving Turkey's independence and territorial integrity after the First World War, and the Turks will never be allowed to forget it! While he believed in democracy, he was smart enough to know that the T ...more
Robert Morris
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great book. At 500 pages, it still feels like a whirlwind tour through the life of the father of the Turkish Republic. The man got an incredible amount done in a sadly short life. Prior to reading the book I only had a broad stroke sense of it, but this book makes the sheer scale of his achievement clear. Ataturk, and the people surrounding him, managed to reverse 200 years of decline and place Turkey on an upswing. That they were able to do this while being besieged by the victors of World Wa ...more
Dec 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Andrew Mango is a professional historian who has written a book for other professional historians. Hailed as the "definitive biography" of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, it is marked by the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. On the one hand, it's very well-researched, very detailed and very exacting with respect to the likely truthfulness of the sources cited. On the other hand, it's overly detailed, it follows a rigid chronological form, keeps up an unvarying tempo, and is quite boring. Mango is ...more
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mustafa Kemal was arguably the most important man to live in the 20th century. Not only did he save Turkey from being carved by the West into unrecognizable pieces like the Arab states (inaugurating a seemingly endless period of political dysfunction), he was the prototype for the secularizing military strongman. He has inspired countless imitators, right up to people like Pervez Musharraf and Abdulfattah Sisi, none of whom have ever been able to match his success either on the battlefield or in ...more
Tyler Anderson
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This is a wildly apologetic and slanted biography of the founder of the State of Turkey. That said, any adult with an outline of 20th Century geopolitics will pretty easily read between the lines. Kemal Ataturk was an autocrat who skirted around the edges of a sort of National Socialism Lite. But, as these are the realities, this is the texture and the framework that makes Ataturk such an interesting figure—a sort of modernist benevolent dictator. Benevolent, I suppose, unless you are a politica ...more
Mohamed Montasser
Dec 25, 2010 rated it liked it
I got this book for one reason, I wanted to know how one person succeeded in distancing Islam and people in a country that was once the heart of the Muslim Caliphate. I have heard stories from Muslim scholars about Mostafa Kemal, and to me most of what I heard sounded like a conspiracy theory, so I needed to get the story from an "unbiased" source so I got this book during my last trip to Istanbul.

The book itself is too detailed to my taste, sometimes it felt like reading chronicles, also too mu
Paul Sharpe
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history, turkey
Mango's Ataturk must certainly be the most authoritative and accessible English biography of Ataturk available. Mango's detailed biography is a chronological narrative that starts with a clear account of Mustafa Kemal's family, place of birth and origins and ends with the death of the great leader and the fall out thereof. This sweeping biography is placed in the context of late Ottoman decline and early 20th century European strife and conflict and seeks to understand the nationalistic ideals t ...more
Omar Taufik
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was simply wonderful, well written and full of useful information.
The author Andrew Mango a British national born in early three year old republican Istanbul 1926 depended on Turkish sources to write this great autobiography on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the founder of the modern republic of Turkey.
The author takes us from early bringing up in late Ottoman Salonica to military education in Macedonia and Istanbul bringing Mustafa Kemal into the world of politics and revolutionaries. He then
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Too much detail with not enough analysis. The writing style is clumsy and often obscures rather than illuminates. And most of all for a political biography, well for any biography at all actually, the reader does not get a feel for the subject.

The author sometimes hints and sometimes says quite bluntly that Ataturk hid his tracks rather well. There is an Ataturk history industry that has been assiduously building, renovating and burying this mans life since the early twenties. One small example
Mahmoud Ashour
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Ataturk was a competent commander, a shrewd politician, a statesman of supreme realism, But above all, he was a man of the enlightenment. And the enlightenment was not made by saints."-Andrew Mango.

"He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; It is as if he would catch his people in a trap."- Ataturk

"He wanted to persuade his people that modern civilization and Islam were compatible. Then he lost interest in the argument, not because he had been denied the caliphate but beca
Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it
If an expatriate is going to live in Turkey, this book is almost required reading because it is about the person most beloved throughout the nation: Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. I enjoyed this book because it was interesting to see how one person with vision saw enormous opportunity in the decline of the Ottoman Empire and created something completely new. The average leader could get get bogged down in mourning the loss of territory, wealth, and power the Ottoman Empire was exp ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it liked it
When I was looking for a biography of Ataturk, I wasn't able to decide between this volume and a similar one by Kinoross that predates it, so I decided to read both. My thinking was that this one appeared to do a better job at providing the broader context of what was going on, but was also drier and less likely to get more into the mind of the Turkish leader.

But both actually end up sharing similar flaws. Mango's work does a much better job of setting the scene for Ataturk's rise, explaining t
Tolga Turan
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a Turkish reader who spent most of teenage and early adulthood in Turkey, I have been in a medium of differing opinions about Ataturk. In Turkey, some worships him and gives him a status nothing less than prophethood. Others fail to give him the least status of a patriot who loved his country and people. There are also those who dare, albeit covertly, to call him anti- islam infidel. Therefore I wanted to read an unbiased biography of the man who saved a country a nation from the depths of po ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ataturk was a competent commander, a shrewd politician, a statesman of supreme realism. But above all he was a man of the Enlightenment. And the Enlightenment was not made by saints.
That last paragraph on page 528 sums it up beautifully.
An excellent book, well researched and extremely fair.
Houssam El okda
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nedret Efe
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As the founder of the Turkish Republic and the chief architect of the cultural revolution and westernisation of Turkish society that began in the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk will be remembered for his incredible contribution to history. His passion for the participation in a universalist, humanist “one civilisation” (reflected in his famous expression “Yurtta sulh, cihanda sulh”, or “Peace at home, peace in the world”, the basis of the foreign policy of the early Turkish Republic) underpinned h ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nie wiem, jak z polskim tłumaczeniem, ale wersja angielska to mnóstwo zmarnowanego potencjału (zwłaszcza Galipoli), a szkoda.


"I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap."

Things I've learnt about Ataturk from this book:
- he mixed with his birth date
- he had a lover (not sure if it is correct word, but it seems so from reading)
- he wa
Mustafa Moiz
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting book. It was very easy to read and it didn’t feel like 500 pages. This is probably the definitive biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and, more importantly, it portrays the conditions in the late Ottoman Empire and early modern Turkey very well. It manages to show the conditions into which Atatürk and his contemporaries grew up in and how their present reality affected them and their decisions. It really made me feel as though these were not just historical figures who died a l ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Good overall.

An English-background author who was born in Turkey and who reads and speaks the language makes for a solid historic background for this book

Mango doesn't whitewash Ataturk, but doesn't throw him under any buses, either.

That said, while Ataturk himself was not involved with the Armenian genocide, tho some battles he led in the War for Independence certainly affected Armenians, as did his Turkization of place names, surnames, etc., it did happen. And Mango never really talks about i
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Took me some time to finish, but surely worth it!

Inevitably, it has its flaws here and there, particularly some not very solid conclusions on the Armenian events of 1915(and before, on which he-understandibly- barely touched on). Overall though, as far as the purpose and main subject of the biography and the technique are concerned, it really is definitive.

It is, before all, an immensely meticulous work, doing justice to the term biography. The sources used by the author and persons whom he spo
Sep 11, 2011 rated it liked it
A Great book on a very controversial leader. As the 21st century began one has to remember Ataturk's is the only country still loyal to ideals of its leader and founder. Iran, Iraq, Egypt and even Tunis have changed drastically and are not anything like what their leaders in early 20th century envisioned. Turkey survived and is ready to take on its place under the sun...It has already taken its place.
I am adding my review in Persian as well:

در دنیای پس از ج
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Ataturk was one of the great statesman of the 20th century -- unquestionably the man who made modern Turkey. With accomplishments like that, it's no surprise he was an interesting person. Not necessarily a nice person, but a striking one.

This biography concentrates mostly on his political life. The political maneuvering is front and center, with military aspects secondary. There are a few revealing details about Ataturk's personal life. We hear a bit about his unhappy marriage -- he had his wife
Ameer Kana'an
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm certainly surprised that I bought this book from a Turkish library, where in it Ataturk is politely called a "dictator". My first urge to buy it was to understand the transformation from a Caliphate to this kind of Laïcismic secularism. The biggest faction -geographically- and maybe the most powerful that is fighting in Syria, my country, is ISIS, a faction that is molded on the principle, and maybe the only principle "to revive the caliphate". Not to mention other Caliphist movements, like ...more
Keith W
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the best political biography I've ever read. It started slowly, with the author spending several pages analyzing differing views on the date of Ataturk's birth and the identity of the house in which he was born. That part was so slow that I almost gave up and put the book down but I'm glad I didn't. Mango has written what will surely stand as the definitive life of Mustapha Kemal. His research was clearly exhaustive, as reflected in the voluminous and detailed endnotes. (Mango has writte ...more
Ngoc Nam
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are a lot of interesting coincidences between Atatürk and Ho Chi Minh's life. Both chose the date 19th May for their birthday. Both died right after the anniversary of their own republic. Both were great nationalists with tremendous vision for their nation. Both believed in education and in a peaceful, fruitful future of Western civilization inside an Eastern society. None of them had a normal personal life with a wife, sons, daughters... though they deserved much more than that. Vietnames ...more
Czarny Pies
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone living in the EU
Recommended to Czarny by: Orhan Pamuk
Shelves: european-history
This is the definitive English Language biography of the man who created the Modern Turkey as a state and as a cultural entity. Ataturk rallied the Turkish Army when the diplomats of Western European decided to give away large sections of his country to Greece and seized the Territory that constitutes the modern state of today.

Ataturk was also a ferocious modernizer. He banned the traditional Turkish alphabet and imposed the Latin Alphabet on his country. He also required all Turkish men to wear
Oct 19, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pending
Who am I kidding, I am never going to get back to this book to finish it. Probably doing Ataturk and Mango a great injustice but I am sick of looking at it on my list.
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: turkey
Amazing insight on the life of a man who change a country.... or created it depends how you see it!
Rajiv Agarwal
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. The author takes trouble to keep his views unbiased. Attaturk was a very divisive figure but never the less founder of modern Turkey
Grof J. Kešetović
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm actually surprised that this book was allowed to be translated into Turkish. Firstly, this book sheds a very interesting light on the life and work of Mustafa Kemal; from the beginnings in the military to the great national leader. However, the author uses the opportunity to add his own criticism on Mustafa Kemal which I found more interesting than the biography.

The ones who are not aware of the personality cult that was instated with the Democrat Party in the 1950s would find that it's a c
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Andrew James Alexander Mango is a British author who was born in Turkey as one of three sons of a prosperous Anglo-Russian family. He is the brother of the distinguished Oxford historian and Byzantinist Professor Cyril Mango. Mango's early years were passed in Istanbul but in the mid-1940s he left for Ankara and obtained a job as a press officer in the British Embassy. He moved to the United Kingd ...more

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
8 likes · 4 comments
“I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap.” 1 likes
“Sovereignty and kingship are never decided by academic debate. They are seized by force. The Ottoman dynasty appropriated by force the government of the Turks, and reigned over them for six centuries. Now the Turkish nation has effectively gained possession of its sovereignty… This is an accomplished fact… If those assembled here … see the matter in its natural light, we shall all agree. Otherwise, facts will still prevail, but some heads may roll.” 1 likes
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