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Ataturk: A Biography of Mustafa Kemal,…
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Ataturk: A Biography of Mustafa Kemal, Father of Modern Turkey

by Patrick Balfour

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Turkey is a country that is neither here nor there. Geographically it belongs to both Europe and Asia. Historically it is an empire that straddles both Middle East and European history. Theologically it is Islamic but it is also a secular state. It is a democracy but is unlike most western democracies. Ethnically its people are more like the people of the central steppes of Russia than they are the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. Historically there is a large Christian population located within the Turkish borders, and the country was forced to make some great changes due to the great misfortune of being on the losing side in World War I. Even so Turkey has more often than not turned towards Europe and the other Western countries for inspiration and today is trying to gain a spot in the EU. Because Turkey is one of the great conundrums of Europe thought I needed to know more about the formation of modern Turkey and the man who founded it.

The book was published back in 1965 and for being so old it was a surprisingly good read. Kemal was a fascinating man who dragged his country into the modern age kicking and screaming. In the end he may have failed as he acted more and more like a potentate himself than he did a democratic leader. However, for the last 70 years Turkey has had one of the few semi democratic governments found in an Islamic country so he did not complete fail. This is a must read for anybody interested in the modern Middle East and how it got to be the way it is. ( )
  benitastrnad | Jan 9, 2011 |
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