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Sisältää nimen: CAROLINE FINKEL

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Caroline Finkel narrates the history of the Ottoman Empire - starting from the arrival of Islam in predominantly Christian Anatolia in 1071 to the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Finkel describes the rise of the Turks, their complicated method of rule, all the court and military politics, . power struggles, their contradicting policies, the transformation from Islamic to Secular form of rule (whenever and whatever the circumstances required) and vice versa and their gradual demise.

Osman's rule (read 'Ottoman' in the West) starts from 1326-7, though the first victory Osman won was on the shores of Marmara in 1301. In those times, cooperation between the Muslims and Christian rulers was common against an enemy and intermarriage (as a source of alliance) was common-practice. Finkel dismisses that the claims of permanent and irreconcilable division between Ottomans and Byzantium rulers and argues through examples that these claims are a fiction. These claims were probably made in later times to get legitimacy for the Ottoman rule.

Throughout the book, one point that really strikes home is the use of Juridical Decrees through prominent Islamic scholars by Sultans to legitimize their political ambitions. The reason this rings so true is that scholars have always been used to issue decrees to support the political and expansive ambitions of the Muslim rulers (whether it is the 12th century or the 21st century) and still Muslims around the world occasionally experience the exploitation through religion.

Finkel explains that religious minorities (especially Jews) were relatively safe in the the Ottoman lands and Jews and Christians rose to prominence during their rule (and almost always supported the war effort in addition to paying the poll taxes). This trend only reversed in the late 19th century when it was seen advantageous to revert to Islamism to instill a feeling of unity among the masses as the Empire was shrinking year by year.

Osman's Dream is a book of enormous information that is sometimes hard to absorb but still this books makes an interesting read. For me this book acted as a guide through the times that was a period of expansion for political Islam, maintaining its unbiased character throughout and I really enjoyed reading this.
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Harris_Niazi | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 24, 2018 |
Wat een dikke turf: 550 erg gevulde bladzijden, met daarbij nog tal van bijlagen. Finkel vertelt het verhaal van bijna 700 jaar in één ruk, met veel oog voor detail en nuance en hier en daar klassieke Westerse of Turkse visies bijstellend. Ik twijfel er niet aan dat dit een heel degelijk onderbouwd betoog is, het resultaat van grondig onderzoek en veel lectuur.
Maar ... dit boek is bijna onleesbaar door de opeenstapeling van details, de opeenvolging van sultans, grootvizieren, interne en externe oorlogen, verdragen en bestanden. Finkel heeft van deze rijke geschiedenis eerder een kroniek gemaakt dan een synthesewerk. De grote lijnen verzuipen in de details, en tussen al het militair-politieke geweld gaan de sociaal-economische en culturele aspecten bijna volledig ten onder.… (lisätietoja)
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bookomaniac | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 23, 2015 |
There is a lot of information crammed into these 600 pages, making for a dense but rewarding read. Ottoman history covers a vast swathe of time, stretching from competition with the Byzantine Empire to dismantlement by the British and French at the end of World War I, and geography, from Morocco to the Caspian Sea from Yemen to the outskirts of Vienna. That Finkel is able to coherently and cogently cover this extensive history is remarkable. Usually treated as a mysterious "other," the Ottoman Empire is here recreated primarily from internal sources, which gives a rather different perspective on its history.

Recommended for those with an interest, this may be a bit too much information for the casual reader; however, it is a marvelous treatment and a great way for Western readers to shed a few biases.
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le.vert.galant | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 26, 2015 |
This is a single (though it is large, at 660 pages) volume history written for the general reader (p. xiv) who has no background in Ottoman history.

The exact end of the Empire is a bit murky and is dated to various times in the 1920s by historians. Finkel describes "The Ottoman Empire [which] ended in 1922, the year of the abolition of the sultanate; . . . 1923 when the Turkish Republic was declared; or . . . 1924, when the caliphate was abolished" (p. xiii). The author "extended . . . [her] account into the republican period, to 1927, the year when Ataturk made a great speech justifying his role in the overthrow of the empire and the establishment of the republic" (pp. xiii, 1).

Its origins are even more obscure though it is based on a dream, hence the title, of the first sultan, Osman (p. 2). The beginnings of the Empire are even more obscure than its end but initially the Ottomans are pressed to legitimize their rule through Islam or any other convenient tool that could be appropriated to bolster their rule.

An important question then is: "Was the Ottoman emirate motivated above all by commitment to `holy war' (jihad)"-- the struggle against non-Muslims that is standard Islamic practice (p. 5)? Or, is the Ottoman Empire more a battle of secular and strategic forces that coalesced in the geographical region? Finkel presents a balanced approach to that key question as she points out that jihad may have been a contributing, though not critical consideration. In any event, the Ottoman struggle for power is a conflict that existed over two centuries thus any single religious or secular generalization should be dismissed out of hand (p. 6). Finkel presents evidence that the Ottomans had no compunction against exploiting traditional Islamic practices or invocation of the Islamic faith whenever necessary to achieve their propagandistic or legitimizing ends (pp. 6-10).

"Islam was a component of the public identity of the chiefs of the Ottoman emirate from the start" (pp. 9-10). One of the Sultan's titles for example was gaza, "meaning `war for the faith,' or `war against infidels,' or 'holy war'" (Finkel elaborates: "gaza may be considered almost a synonym for jihad," p. 10). At the time however, the term did not "have a confrontational, anti-Christian connotation" (p. 10). Its confrontational, anti-Christian meaning is a later development. The establishment of the Ottoman Empire figuratively, and more importantly literally, included alliances and marriages with Byzantine Christians as a practical means to dominate the Christian West. The demise of Serbian Kosovo for instance is indicative of the battles of the late 20th century. The Serbs lament the loss of their Christian dominion as they suffered defeat at the hands of the Muslim conqueror. For both Christians and Muslims of the region then, the Balkans are variously seen as their territory, either legitimately theirs historically, or conquered in a battle of blood (Cf. Halberstam, War in a Time of Peace).

Ahmed Resmi Efendi, senior statesman, openly admired Frederick the Great since he sought "glory and fame" (p. 373) and avoided "religion and creed" (p. 373). He appreciated the Prussian military might and his thought is characterized with an "implied criticism of recent Ottoman sultans [which] is palatable" (p. 373).

Over tensions regarding the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in 1768 the Sultan mistakenly declared war. Tensions between Russia and the Ottomans proved disastrous for the failing Empire. "Three centuries of Ottoman control of the Black Sea ended with Russia" sailing freely with access to the Mediterranean (p. 377). For the first time ever the Ottomans agreed to pay a war indemnity.

I have reviewed Dream in terms of its origins but the end of the Ottoman Empire is more complex and nuanced according to this reading. A key consideration is to what extent, if any, did the Reformation and the Enlightenment have on the crumbling "sick man of Europe," a term originated in 1853. The impact of modernity on the Ottoman Empire is profound. The key period is the Tanzimat, or Re-ordering (pp. 447ff) in which the Ottomans experienced a crisis of identity in reaction to greater contact with the West, particularly France. However, nothing along the lines of a religious Reformation occurred in Islam and the more radical elements of Islam rose to the fore in the nineteenth century. The Wahabist sect, originating in Saudi Arabia, cut off the Holy Sites from their brother Muslims in the Ottoman Empire as Ottoman influence waned. Previously, the Ottomans viewed themselves as protectors of the Holy Sites but as they declined the Saudis were anxious to seize control over the sites wresting them from the Ottomans. In addition, numerous Ottomans noted the advance of the West and sought an `enlightened despotism' along the lines of a Frederick II. The attempt did not work as the regime attempted to more completely Islamasize itself which proved to be its undoing.

Islam in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire failed to prevent and may have contributed to the rapid decline of the Ottomans in the last 75 years of its existence. Reforms were attempted but the religious authorities did not want to open up Islamic institutions to the non-Islamic and secularizing influences of the West. Thus, in many regards, financial and military reforms, along the lines of Western education and technology, may have bolstered the ruling class of the Ottomans. Untroubled by religious compulsions, and as a point of contrast, Japan readily embraced Western ideas and incorporated them at roughly the same time as the Ottoman decline except with the contrasting result of strengthening Japan's military and ruling class.
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gmicksmith | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 8, 2010 |


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