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The Ottoman Age of Exploration by Giancarlo…
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The Ottoman Age of Exploration

by Giancarlo Casale

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In 1517, the Ottoman Sultan Selim "the Grim" conquered Egypt and brought his empire for the first time in history into direct contact with the trading world of the Indian Ocean. During the decades that followed, the Ottomans became progressively more engaged in the affairs of this vast and previously unfamiliar region, eventually to the point of launching a systematic ideological, military and commercial challenge to the Portuguese Empire, their main rival for control of the lucrative trade routes of maritime Asia.
The Ottoman Age of Exploration is the first comprehensive historical account of this century-long struggle for global dominance, a struggle that raged from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Straits of Malacca, and from the interior of Africa to the steppes of Central Asia. Based on extensive research in the archives of Turkey and Portugal, as well as materials written on three continents and in a half dozen languages, it presents an unprecedented picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state during the sixteenth century. It does so through a dramatic recounting of the lives of sultans and viziers, spies, corsairs, soldiers-of-fortune, and women from the imperial harem. Challenging traditional narratives of Western dominance, it argues that the Ottomans were not only active participants in the Age of Exploration, but ultimately bested the Portuguese in the game of global politics by using sea power, dynastic prestige, and commercial savoir faire to create their own imperial dominion throughout the Indian Ocean.

Review

"[A]n important work." --The Historian

"Far from being bystanders, the Ottomans emerge from Giancarlo Casale's study as key actors in the sixteenth-century age of exploration. Their 1517 conquest of Egypt made the Empire into a major Red Sea power. It also made the Ottoman sultans the Protectors of the Two Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina and gave them claims to being the most prestigious Muslim sovereigns. Exploding conventional opinions about the Ottomans as a land-based power, about their lack of prowess in seafaring, about their inward-looking commercial policy, and about their cultural introversion, Casale has produced a study of enduring significance for the history of the Ottoman Empire and of the whole sixteenth-century world."--Carter V. Findley, author of The Turks in World History

"Casale has made a major contribution to the intellectual and cultural history of the Ottoman Empire. He shows that the Ottoman conquest of the Arab world was no mere acquisition of territory. Through the Arab lands, the Ottomans discovered the Indian Ocean and embarked on an intellectual journey through the previously unknown world of medieval Arab scholarship."--Molly Greene, Princeton University

"This path-breaking account of Ottoman exploration of the Indian Ocean upends a number of assumptions about imperial aspirations, mercantile aptitudes, and modes of expansion and alliance-building. Giancarlo Casale gives us a wonderfully lively narrative of a century of Ottoman rivalry with the Portuguese, against whom the empire deployed technological know-how, persuasive rhetoric, effective political and geographic intelligence, and above all a series of gifted and daring statesmen and seamen."--Leslie Peirce, New York University

"Giancarlo Casale challenges the master narrative that portrays Christian Europeans as the sole maritime explorers of the sixteenth century. Making room for the Ottoman Turks will discomfit world historians, but the power and elegance of Casale's argument and the weight of the evidence he presents cannot be denied."--Richard W. Bulliet, Columbia University

"Once in a while, one has the opportunity to read a monograph that changes the way you envision a people, empire or event and, thus, changes the way you teach the particular subject in the classroom. Giancarlo Casale's book on the Ottomans in the sixteenth century accomplishes just thatEL.His arguments are sure to spawn interesting debate and will also find their way into classrooms,ELproviding scholars and students confirmation that the Ottomans were agents of change in the Indian Ocean and its spice trade." --Kathy Callahan, World History Bulletin

About the Author

Giancarlo Casale is Assistant Professor of the History of the Islamic World and the 2009-2011 McKnight Land Grant Professor at the University of Minnesota.
  GalenWiley | May 7, 2015 |
I probably would have enjoyed this more if I had not listened to it as an audio book. The subject matter and narration are a bit too densely packed with information for simply listening to while driving. Regardless of the density, the book is a fascinating re-evaluation of the Ottoman Empire's role in the world theater during the Age of Discovery (mainly the 16th century) and notes the strong role they came to play in the early colonial conflicts within the Indian Ocean. Casale argues that the Ottomans were not victims of European expansion during this period, but were in fact key players and benefited greatly from this age of conquest and trade. This stands in opposition to the all too common narrative of the 'Sick man of Europe' and should be read by anyone interested in a refreshed assessment of this important era in history. ( )
  Lutholtz | Apr 19, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195377826, Hardcover)

In 1517, the Ottoman Sultan Selim "the Grim" conquered Egypt and brought his empire for the first time in history into direct contact with the trading world of the Indian Ocean. During the decades that followed, the Ottomans became progressively more engaged in the affairs of this vast and previously unfamiliar region, eventually to the point of launching a systematic ideological, military and commercial challenge to the Portuguese Empire, their main rival for control of the lucrative trade routes of maritime Asia.

The Ottoman Age of Exploration is the first comprehensive historical account of this century-long struggle for global dominance, a struggle that raged from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Straits of Malacca, and from the interior of Africa to the steppes of Central Asia. Based on extensive research in the archives of Turkey and Portugal, as well as materials written on three continents and in a half dozen languages, it presents an unprecedented picture of the global reach of the Ottoman state during the sixteenth century. It does so through a dramatic recounting of the lives of sultans and viziers, spies, corsairs, soldiers-of-fortune, and women from the imperial harem. Challenging traditional narratives of Western dominance, it argues that the Ottomans were not only active participants in the Age of Exploration, but ultimately bested the Portuguese in the game of global politics by using sea power, dynastic prestige, and commercial savoir faire to create their own imperial dominion throughout the Indian Ocean.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:09 -0400)

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