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- Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire
- Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel
Now its a good reference book about the events that shaped the Ottoman history, but I feel that I missed a lot of stuff about how exactly the Ottoman society and state was structured. May 13, Luke rated it did not like it Shelves: Jun 24, Kartik rated it really liked it. Who could have imagined that an errant Central Asian tribe would go on to change the course of history? Osman's Dream follows the course of the Ottoman Dynasty, as it grew from a local landowning tribe in Anatolia to the leaders of a state that went on to conquer what reminded of the Byzantine Empire and push into the Balkans.
The dynasty ruled over a base of highly diverse subjects, from Protestant Hungarians, to Armenians, to Anatolian Turks, to Bedouins, and Sephardic Jews. The various changes Who could have imagined that an errant Central Asian tribe would go on to change the course of history? The various changes in the fortunes of both the dynasty and the empire the two were not always in sync and the various factors that shaped these changes are examined at length in this book, and its overall scope is rather large.
It begins with the origins of the dynasty, which ultimately lie in Central Asian migration to Anatolia and in local power struggles between competing Turkic tribes, and goes on to chronicle Ottoman expansion in Anatolia and the Balkans, the fall of Constantinople, the defeat of the Mamluks, and ends with Mustafa Kemal's establishment of the modern Turkish republic and the banishing of the dynasty.
This book wasn't too dry to read, and maintained a balanced tone except in the final chapter. It made for an interesting read and was able to impress on me the scope and variety of the factors, events, and actions of people that made the Ottoman state what it was. Jun 23, Lynn Dolan rated it liked it. I actually started the book much earlier in the summer - and I should add in fairness, read it only in fits and starts whenever I needed a break from other material. The title was intriguing. Yet, I should have realized as soon as I picked up this hefty book and glanced at the tight font on its pages, that it would be a rigorous account of the Ottoman Empire - no lyrical descriptions to be had.
It's like a big bowl of nutritious porridge. You rather "know" than "feel" that it is good for you and I actually started the book much earlier in the summer - and I should add in fairness, read it only in fits and starts whenever I needed a break from other material. You rather "know" than "feel" that it is good for you and it's chock full of facts if a bit 'Ottocentric'. It left me feeling full after a few chapters.
- Dreaming of Dreams and Make Believe (The Dream Series Book 1).
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It wasn't a good choice for summer reading where I would opt for something a bit more "fun" with some interesting analysis or speculation thrown in. Mar 02, Kerveros rated it really liked it. A really good introduction to the Ottoman Empire. I recommend it to everybody interested. If I had to mention the main advantage and the main disadvantage of the book I would summarize as follows: Finkel fell into the trap of underestimating the consequences of some acts of the late ottoman period. She did not do so by putting them into the context of that period but instead she did it in a way that indirectly reveals her attachment to modern Turkey.
This is not obvious to a new reade A really good introduction to the Ottoman Empire. This is not obvious to a new reader but only to serious researchers of the ottoman era. With a very very clever way she manages to escape from the traps of orientalism. She is not managing it by exposing its problematic rhetoric but on the contrary she formulates the chapters and the text in such a way that she avoids the orientalist narrative.
It took longer than I expected; suffice to say, it covers a lot of detail in odd pages of text for an empire that lasted longer than the Russian empire. Still for anyone who wishes to study the Ottoman Empire this is a valuable resource. Comes with a list of ruling sultans through the ages and a significant timeline. Definitely one to keep. Mar 07, stillme added it Shelves: This was a little too ambitious for me right now. May 06, Avery rated it really liked it. The Ottoman Empire was a chiefly agrarian state that for the majority of its lifespan was grounded in a respect for tradition and suspicion of innovation shared between its peasantry and elites.
For over years after Gutenberg the printing press was illegal in Ottoman realms in order to preserve the traditional craft and art of calligraphic books. The law was overlooked to allow Christians to print books but they had a hard time of it too. Their polity resembled the Roman empire and they ha The Ottoman Empire was a chiefly agrarian state that for the majority of its lifespan was grounded in a respect for tradition and suspicion of innovation shared between its peasantry and elites.
Their polity resembled the Roman empire and they had similar political instability and popular uprisings. Like the Russians, the Ottomans were surprised by Western Europe's development of usury, colonialism, and racism in the eighteenth century, and its increasing tendency to break treaties when convenient. Even as the Young Turks tried to push the sultan out of power in , ordinary peasants were rioting on the street calling for bans on photography and movie theaters. The author includes discussions of the Ottoman approach to minority populations throughout.
Rather than uniting all ethnic groups within their nationalism the Ottomans saw the maintenance of non-Muslim populations as key to the upkeep of their empire. Non-Muslims could be taxed, forcibly moved across the empire, expelled, or targeted for conversion depending on what the political situation called for.
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Even Muslim minorities were seen as possible targets by the Turk majority. This had long-standing implications still visible in Turkey today. This is a fairly difficult and encyclopedic overview of Ottoman history. It focuses on military history and palace intrigue. Don't expect the author to hold your hand through the many ornate twists and turns. It's generally a good book, but I noticed that the references to Arabic manuscripts and other difficult Ottoman primary sources generally lack contextual value and are offered simply because it's cool to have a primary source witness.
If you see something that seems extraneous to the narrative check the footnote and you'll almost certainly see a Turkish manuscript there. This is the driest book in the world. There's no life behind the words. It was a slog but I got there in the end. Dec 26, Jackson Cyril rated it really liked it Shelves: Finkel's thesis, as I read it, is that the 'decline' of the empire began in the 16th century, with internal strife-- rebellious governors, unorthodox religious beliefs and the like.
This strife was aggravated by the decentralization of power after Suleyman I, with power being held primarily by the Jannisary corps who deposed and named sultans at will not unlike Rome's praetorian guards and the Romanovs' palace guards -- and also because of a string of weak and under-aged Sultans in the 16th and Finkel's thesis, as I read it, is that the 'decline' of the empire began in the 16th century, with internal strife-- rebellious governors, unorthodox religious beliefs and the like.
This strife was aggravated by the decentralization of power after Suleyman I, with power being held primarily by the Jannisary corps who deposed and named sultans at will not unlike Rome's praetorian guards and the Romanovs' palace guards -- and also because of a string of weak and under-aged Sultans in the 16th and 17th centuries the parallels to the Carolingian monarchs after Charlemagne is striking.
She also notes, and here the parallels with modern America become clearer, that as the Empire's power declined, intolerance and an emphasis on religious orthodoxy grew; there were efforts to "insult and humiliate the infidels" p. In the main, the argument here is to overturn Euro-centric historiography which perceived the empire to be intolerant and cruel for much of its history; there is also an effort by the author to overturn the idea of the empire as "the sick man of Europe"-- a striking example of this being the Ottomans's robust performance in WW1, which took the Allied powers entirely by surprise.
I am not sure that there is much to critique here; Finkel has mastered the material and has conveyed the 'high drama' of Ottoman history with great ease and written it in a style which is enjoyable to read. The book would have benefited from a discussion on the developments in Ottoman literature and music although she does a good job discussing developments in Ottoman architecture, especially as it pertains to mosques ; but on the whole, a very good book.
Sep 30, Jeremy rated it liked it Shelves: An impressive work of scholarship, but a real bear to read. This is truly a history book - it is primarily the history of the "great men" of the Ottoman empire, with cultural and religious history drawn in mostly when required by the text. No doubt anyone interested in Ottoman history or the history of the middle east would value it as a reference book.
As a book to actually read from cover-to-cover though, it leaves something to be desired. First of all, although I'm not sure how this could hav An impressive work of scholarship, but a real bear to read. First of all, although I'm not sure how this could have been avoided, the pace of the book is often dizzying. Sultans rise and fall, grand viziers come and go - all these events rushing by with only a general description of their significance. The events outside of Istanbul often seem quite distant, and we don't get much of a sense of life outside the corridors of power, especially in outlying areas.
But the scope of the book is massive, so this may be the nature of the beast. Analysis of events and their significance is light. Generally, I appreciate a light touch in a history book, but in a book that is throwing so much information at the reader, even someone familiar with academic histories I think will find themselves wanting a few more interpretive signposts on the trail. Generally, the analysis that is present seems helpful, although I was left with several major questions that I don't feel I even have an impression of how the author might answer.
The subject of the book was an interesting one and provided some interesting insights into how the Ottoman Empire actually affected European history. The threat it posed, for example, to the Hapsburgs severely crippled the Hapsburgs in the Thirty Year War is something rarely mentioned in accounts of that conflict, nor do you often find mention of how the Protestant powers sought Ottoman aid in fighting the Catholic powers of Spain and Austria. But despite all that, the book was probably too ambi The subject of the book was an interesting one and provided some interesting insights into how the Ottoman Empire actually affected European history.
But despite all that, the book was probably too ambitious in scope. Too many vezirs, generals and pashas appear and disappear with alarming rapidity. Nor was the switch from the original practice where the new sultan slew all other potential claimants to the later practice of keeping everyone alive but imprisoned in the harem adequately explained. Nov 24, Tony Gualtieri rated it it was amazing.
There is a lot of information crammed into these 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 E There is a lot of information crammed into these pages, making for a dense but rewarding read.
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.
Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire
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. Mar 13, Christopher rated it really liked it Shelves: Alot of the reviews on here seem to imply this is dry or boring, but I thought this the best history of the Ottoman Empire I have ever read-yes, including Lord Kinross' epic masterpiece.
By being purely the narrative of the state itself and only engaging with secondary topics as they become relevant, it avoids that obnoxious pitfall so common to contemporary histories of entire narrative-breaking chapters devoted solely to soft social issues like 'religion' or 'home life' and other things I have Alot of the reviews on here seem to imply this is dry or boring, but I thought this the best history of the Ottoman Empire I have ever read-yes, including Lord Kinross' epic masterpiece.
By being purely the narrative of the state itself and only engaging with secondary topics as they become relevant, it avoids that obnoxious pitfall so common to contemporary histories of entire narrative-breaking chapters devoted solely to soft social issues like 'religion' or 'home life' and other things I have always found boring when separated from the greater context. Top of its class. Dec 19, Annm rated it really liked it Shelves: I learned a lot about the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire from this book.
However, I think one of my main take away points is that this is a long, complex history, and reading one book about isn't enough to have it really sink in. I'd love recommendations for ther books on any part of Ottoman history. Oct 03, Natasa rated it it was amazing Shelves: A great way to wrap six centuries of the great Ottoman Empire in a short space. Nov 27, Tom Nixon rated it really liked it. It was crazy to think that Rome in one form or another persisted until , when it was snuffed out by a rising Ottoman Empire- and the rise of the Ottomans was equally fascinating to watch unfold on the pages of the atlas.
What would have happened had they taken Vienna in ? I'm not sure, but it's one of great 'what if' questions of history. The narrative runs to pages with at least a couple of hundred more of footnotes and various appendices. Despite that, it sort of fell between, 'I can't put this down' and 'Dear God, let this book end sometime soon' on the spectrum for me.
I could read about half a chapter at a time and given that the chapters were about pages or even longer sometimes that, I thought was a fairly decent chunk of book to read at a time. Finkel is comprehensive and you can tell that she has researched the topic of the book exhaustively, but her style isn't as narrative-driven as say, Antonia Fraser, but it's not as detail oriented and 'full immersing you in the topic whether you like it or not' like Roy Jenkins and his biographies.
Part of that, I suspect is down to the nature of the topic. When you're trying to fit six hundred years of history into one book, you don't really have time to faff around with your writing style or get lost in the minutia. But I've also read 'big topic' books like this that are eye gougingly boring to read and Finkel, happily avoids that fate. The story itself, is a fascinating one. The founding myth of the Ottoman Empire namely that it's founder, Osman, had a dream about conquering a great empire opens the book and Mustafa Kemal and his grand speech marking the foundation of the Turkish Republic by making a founding myth of his own, closes it, so there's a nice symmetry there that you can appreciate.
But it's tracing the rise of the Empire that's fascinating Osman was from a fairly minor tribe in central Anatolia and with the Byzantine Empire in it's seemingly usual state of chaos, someone was primed to take advantage and start consolidating the Turkish polities of Anatolia and he did just that. The arc of the next several centuries is punctuated by three main events: Constantinople made the Ottomans into a continent spanning empire and a world power that made the Christian powers of Europe tremble.
The siege of Vienna was their high water mark and really and truly it was all downhill from there. The Tanzimat reform period is interesting because it was at least a recognition by the Ottomans that they needed to come to grips with the explosive forces of nationalism that lead to things like the independence of Greece and then Serbia and Romania. What's interesting to think about, reading it, is thinking about the possibilities if the Ottomans had embraced the reform movement even a century earlier. They were a multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire and maybe that was a kettle of chips that was going to be hard to hold together in the best of circumstances, but the tragedy of Tanzimat is that it was way too little, too late for the Empire.
One throw of the dice and a couple of decent Sultans even a century earlier could have potentially changed the direction of the Empire. While the rise and fall take centuries, reading about how it all imploded is equally fascinating as part of Mustafa Kemal's vision for Turkey involved sweeping away the diversity of the empire that preceded it. Finkel actually tackles the question of the Armenian Genocide in as neutral a way as possible- acknowledging that it happened while presents the pro and con cases for calling it a 'genocide' without falling into the traps of editorializing or passing judgement on the issue, which I find oddly refreshing, given today's current climate on controversial issues of history.
A bit of a hard hike to get through it, but packed with knowledge and really and truly an excellent one volume history of an empire that spanned six centuries.
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Must read if you're interested in that part of the world or just want to find out about the Empire that gave your footrest its proper name. Either way, worked out well for me as I got my knowledge on! Oct 01, Anthony Nelson rated it it was ok. Kind of like reading a really long wikipedia article. Jan 03, Timothy Dymond rated it it was ok. I was holidaying in Istanbul during the Gezi Park demonstrations of They were building a shopping centre and a new Mosque there.
The demonstrations coincided with Ramadan, so to draw people away from the protest, the city authorities located their free Iftar meals the traditional breaking of the fast after sunset in Sultanahmet Park on the other side I was holidaying in Istanbul during the Gezi Park demonstrations of The demonstrations coincided with Ramadan, so to draw people away from the protest, the city authorities located their free Iftar meals the traditional breaking of the fast after sunset in Sultanahmet Park on the other side of town. Sultanahmet is the tourist area as it contains many of the historic buildings of the Ottoman past the Blue and Suleymaniye Mosques, Topkapi Palace, etc.
They finished off the night by letting off a ye olde cannon. The present Turkish government has attempted to draw its legitimacy both from Republican nationalism, and the Ottoman legacy the Republic tried to supersede and suppress. So it tried for a more distinctly Islamic identity - emphasising that the Ottoman Sultans had been 'given' the Caliphate by the Abbasid dynasty in If true likely not this would link the Ottomans to the earliest days of the Prophet Muhammad. Given that, for Australia, an armed invasion of the Ottoman Empire is at the heart of the Gallipoli story, it is striking how little is known here about that Empire.
Because the battles of Gallipoli are also a foundational myth for the Turkish Republic - where Kemal Ataturk came into his own as a military leader - Ataturk tends to overshadow the state he was ostensibly fighting to protect. Finkel finishes her book with Ataturk making a six-day speech [! However the Empire was around for far longer than the Republic. It starts off strongly with the fascinating story of the mysterious first Sultan Osman. Little is known about his origins, however he claimed that his inspiration to conquer came from a vaguely homoerotic sounding dream!
A tree then sprouted from his navel and its shade compassed the world. Beneath this shade there were mountains, and streams flowed forth from the foot of each mountain. Some people drank from these running waters, others watered gardens, while yet others caused fountains to flow. There are bewildering lists of wars, conquests, palace coups and counter-coups - often carried out by Sultans with the same names as previous Sultans, making them difficult to track.
Overall I think 'Osman's Dream' works better as a reference for particular events, rather than as a narrative to read from start to finish. To begin learning about the Ottomans I would start with something smaller and more focussed on specific time periods rather than the entire six centuries. Jan 11, Harris Niazi rated it really liked it. Caroline Finkel narrates the history of the Ottoman Empire - starting from the arrival of Islam in predominantly Christian Anatolia in to the establishment of the Turkish Republic in Finkel describes the rise of the Turks, their complicated method of rule, all the court and military politics,.
Osman's rule read 'Ottoman' in the West starts from , though the first victory Osman won was on the shores of Marmara in 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.
Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel
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. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Books by Caroline Finkel. Trivia About Osman's Dream: No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from Osman's Dream: The simplest explanations are often the most convincing: By rare mathematical coincidence, the centuries turned at the same time in both the Christian and Islamic calendars.
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What more auspicious year to mark the founding of an empire that spanned Europe and the Middle East? Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. This is the first book to tell the full story of the Ottoman dynasty that for six centuries held sway over territories stretching, at their greatest, from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, and from North Africa to the Caucasus.
Understanding the realization of Osman's vision is essential for anyone who seeks to understand the modern world. There is a lot of information crammed into these pages, making for a dense but rewarding read. Ottoman history covers a vast swathe of time, stretching from competition with the Byzantine Empire I'm looking for high school curriculum so it did not meet my expectations. The book however, would be wonderful for a college study!
I am holding on to the book for possible future use! This is the first book to tell the full story of the Ottoman dynasty that for six The Story of the Ottoman Empire