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Birds Without Wings by Louis De Bernières

Birds Without Wings

by Louis De Bernières

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2,156394,336 (4.06)133
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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
An epic novel set in Turkey depicting the history of that country in the early part of the 20th century when a peaceful life was changed by politics and war. It's a long book, in parts more like an historical document written as a novel. I needed to check Wikipedia on occasion to get more details. It was, however, beautifully-written, compassionate and understanding. ( )
  VivienneR | Mar 11, 2017 |
Birds Without Wings – Louis de Bernieres –
5 stars
I’ve recently returned from the small town of Eskibache in Turkey as it was early in the last century. I’m trying to return to my real life, but Eskibache and its many colorful inhabitants are alive and very active in my mind. Eskibache is a special place where Muslims and Christians live peacefully together, mingling language and customs and frequently intermarrying. The town has a learned Imam, a Greek orthodox priest and Rustem Bey the aga. Take a walk in the meydan or down the street where the Armenians live or up the steep hills to the tombs. Stop to watch Iskander the Potter and he will tell you a proverb. Go to the hamam and gossip with the women.
Bernieres uses the multiple voices of the town’s inhabitants to tell the history of this tiny unimportant place during the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Along the way, he also provides a biographical history of the career of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the rise of the modern Turkey. How could the story be anything but tragic? Bernieres allows the private traumas of Eskibache to mirror the enormous catastrophes of war, persecutions and exterminations. And somehow, he does it with humor and poetry.

This is one of those books which I acquired both in audio and paper versions. The audio performance by John Lee is outstanding. It helped me to hear correct pronunciations. John Lee handled the frequent changes of voice and viewpoint seamlessly. I had no trouble keeping track of the many characters.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This is a very moving story set in a small town in Turkey in the early 20th century. Told in many voices and from many viewpoints, it is about a mixed community of Christians and Muslims, Greeks and Turks, who live peacefully together until the war and a changing national identity tears them apart. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
An intriguing interweaving of many stories...a fascinating way to try to understand conflicts (mainly between Greeks and Turks) in Turkey in the early 20th century. Because the story revolves around people in one small town, the relationships become personal and the conflicts seem more absurd.

Excellent reader. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
Joy's review: This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. It covers the life of a small village and it's inhabitants as they were affected by happenings in greater Turkey from the late 1800's through the 1920's. It was a horrific time when human cruelty seemed to break out regularly and randomly. So, it's odd that this book would seem so beautiful to me, but de Bernieres' writing is exceptional and the stories and points-of-view are strong and unique. I loved this book. ( )
  konastories | Aug 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
"De Bernières has always been adept at juxtaposing brutality with episodes of high comedy or romance, and that's certainly the case here."
"Though some readers may balk at the novel's sheer heft, the reward is an effective and moving portrayal of a way of life—and lives—that might, if not for Bernières's careful exposition and imagination, be lost to memory forever."
added by bookfitz | editPublishers Weekly (Aug 30, 2004)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

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