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368 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1998
This book is about a people who do not exist. The word 'Ottoman' does not describe a place. Nobody nowadays speaks their language. Only a few professors can begin to understand their poetry -- 'We have no classics,' snapped a Turkish poet in 1964 at a poetry symposium in Sofia, when asked to acquaint the group with examples of classical Ottoman verse.Who, then, were the Ottomans? Originally, they were a roving military clique under the command of a sultan. They differed from the Arabs in their great seventh century conquests by not caring all that much about converting infidels to Islam. In fact, during the early centuries of the Empire, they were far more liberal in their treatment of Orthodox Christians, Jews, and others than almost any other peoples.