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Birds Without Wings by Louis De Bernieres

Birds Without Wings (edition 2005)

by Louis De Bernieres

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After Captain Corelli's Mandoline (1994) this is a new story about the absurdities of warfare, nationalism and love. In introducing one village in Anatolia, one (or maybe two) lovestory and one friendship overcoming ethnic differences between Greeks and Moslim Ottomans declared Turcs, the author succeeds in making you believe in the characters and their stories. Almost a brave story on its own account is the framework that sketches the career of Kemal Atatürk.
The communication between the Turkish and the Greek Boy is maintained by the use of terracotta birdwhistles. These whistles, like the friends, have no wings so they cannot fly back and forth like birds. ( )
  Dettingmeijer | May 27, 2014 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have read all De Berniere's and this one is right up there. It is far better than Capt Corelli's mandolin.

Set in Turkey at the end of the Ottoman Empire, through the Great War and into the rise of Mustapha Kemal. It takes us through the lives of a group of villagers and the effects of these times upon them. It is moving, joyous and at times deeply sad.

I enjoy historical novels immensely. The story is made up but the the historical detail and many of the characters did exist. A thoroughly good read! ( )
  twosheds | Feb 26, 2014 |
Partially read. Overly long and slow. Interesting characters and relationships. ( )
  TadsList | Jun 25, 2013 |
An interesting fictionalised account of a village in Turkey whose Greek Orthodox population is sent to Greece as part of an enforced population swap after World War I. The novel is slow to begin with, but the short chapters written from different points of view work well to build up a sense of time and place. ( )
  cazfrancis | Jun 10, 2013 |
The writing is on par with Corelli's Mandolin, but overall I think this story is not quite as powerful as that one.

A buzz of animal noises began to stir in the crowd, and an ugliness spiralled up in it, the evil that emanates as if from nowhere when people are permitted to act basely in a righteous cause. (93)

[She:] reflected that it was hardly easy to be married to such a good man, because there was too much of a difference between "good" and "sensible," and a sensible man does not waste his time being considerate to tortoises... (113)

[H:]istory...is finally nothing but a sorry edifice constructed from the hacked flesh in the name of great ideas. (120)

"Does anyone know a story that isn't filthy?...I ask just out of curiosity, and not with much hope." (126)

[T:]he primary epiphenomena of any religion's foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion's establishment are the intentions of its founder. (143)

...and no one with any sense pisses off the Turks, because the one thing the Turks are very good at is overreacting when pissed off. (451)

It is often useless to plan for things, even when you know exactly what you are doing. The present is confounded by the future, the future is confounded by the future beyond it, and the memories bubble up in disorder, and the heart is unpredictable. (550) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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[poem] THE CAT / She was licking / the opened tin / for hours and hours / without realising / that she was drinking / her own blood. // Spyros Kyriazopoulos
In the great scheme of things, this book is necessarily dedicated to the unhappy memory of the millions of civilians on all sides during the times portrayed, [...]. More personally, it is also dedicated to the memory of my maternal grandfather, Arthur Kenneth Smithells, [...]. Manet in pectus domesticum.
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The people who remained in this place have often asked themselves why it was that the Ibrahim went mad.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099478986, Paperback)

Set against the backdrop of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, the Gallipoli campaign and the subsequent bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks, Birds Without Wings traces the fortunes of one small community in south-west Anatolia - a town in which Christian and Muslim lives and traditions have co-existed peacefully for centuries. When war is declared and the outside world intrudes, the twin scourges of religion and nationalism lead to forced marches and massacres, and the peaceful fabric of life is destroyed. Birds Without Wings is a novel about the personal and political costs of war, and about love: between men and women; between friends; between those who are driven to be enemies; and between Philothei, a Christian girl of legendary beauty, and Ibrahim the Goatherd, who has courted her since infancy. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, it is an enchanting masterpiece.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:29 -0400)

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During the finals days of the Ottoman Empire, the young men of the village are instructed to battle the invading forces during the Great War and destroy the peace.

(summary from another edition)

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