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Like England’s Charles II, the Ottoman Empire took “an unconscionable time dying.” Since the seventeenth century, observers had been predicting the collapse of this so-called Sick Man of Europe, yet it survived all its rivals. As late as 1910, the Ottoman Empire straddled three continents. Unlike the Romanovs, Habsburgs, or Hohenzollerns, the House of Osman, which had alli Like England’s Charles II, the Ottoman Empire took “an unconscionable time dying.” Since the seventeenth century, observers had been predicting the collapse of this so-called Sick Man of Europe, yet it survived all its rivals. As late as 1910, the Ottoman Empire straddled three continents. Unlike the Romanovs, Habsburgs, or Hohenzollerns, the House of Osman, which had allied itself with the Kaiser, was still recognized as an imperial dynasty during the peace conference following World War I. The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire offers a provocative view of the empire’s decline, from the failure to take Vienna in 1683 to the abolition of the Sultanate by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) in 1922 during a revolutionary upsurge in Turkish national pride. The narrative contains instances of violent revolt and bloody reprisals, such as the massacres of Armenians in 1896, and other “ethnic episodes” in Crete and Macedonia. More generally, it emphasizes recurring problems: competition between religious and secular authority; the acceptance or rejection of Western ideas; and the strength or weakness of successive Sultans. The book also highlights the special challenges of the early twentieth century, when railways and oilfields gave new importance to Ottoman lands in the Middle East. Events of the past few years have placed the problems that faced the last Sultans back on the world agenda. The old empire’s outposts in the Balkans and in Iraq are still considered trouble spots. Alan Palmer offers considerable insight into the historical roots of many contemporary problems: the Kurdish struggle for survival, the sad continuity of conflict in Lebanon, and the centuries-old Muslim presence in Sarajevo. He also recounts the Ottoman Empire’s lingering interests in their oil-rich Libyan provinces. By exploring that legacy over the past three centuries, The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire examines a past whose effect on the present may go a long way toward explaining the future.


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Like England’s Charles II, the Ottoman Empire took “an unconscionable time dying.” Since the seventeenth century, observers had been predicting the collapse of this so-called Sick Man of Europe, yet it survived all its rivals. As late as 1910, the Ottoman Empire straddled three continents. Unlike the Romanovs, Habsburgs, or Hohenzollerns, the House of Osman, which had alli Like England’s Charles II, the Ottoman Empire took “an unconscionable time dying.” Since the seventeenth century, observers had been predicting the collapse of this so-called Sick Man of Europe, yet it survived all its rivals. As late as 1910, the Ottoman Empire straddled three continents. Unlike the Romanovs, Habsburgs, or Hohenzollerns, the House of Osman, which had allied itself with the Kaiser, was still recognized as an imperial dynasty during the peace conference following World War I. The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire offers a provocative view of the empire’s decline, from the failure to take Vienna in 1683 to the abolition of the Sultanate by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) in 1922 during a revolutionary upsurge in Turkish national pride. The narrative contains instances of violent revolt and bloody reprisals, such as the massacres of Armenians in 1896, and other “ethnic episodes” in Crete and Macedonia. More generally, it emphasizes recurring problems: competition between religious and secular authority; the acceptance or rejection of Western ideas; and the strength or weakness of successive Sultans. The book also highlights the special challenges of the early twentieth century, when railways and oilfields gave new importance to Ottoman lands in the Middle East. Events of the past few years have placed the problems that faced the last Sultans back on the world agenda. The old empire’s outposts in the Balkans and in Iraq are still considered trouble spots. Alan Palmer offers considerable insight into the historical roots of many contemporary problems: the Kurdish struggle for survival, the sad continuity of conflict in Lebanon, and the centuries-old Muslim presence in Sarajevo. He also recounts the Ottoman Empire’s lingering interests in their oil-rich Libyan provinces. By exploring that legacy over the past three centuries, The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire examines a past whose effect on the present may go a long way toward explaining the future.

30 review for The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Arminius

    The “Fall of the Ottoman Empire” is an interesting book. I was preoccupied with determining the exact steps that led to the Empire’s downfall. But first I had to learn of its beginning. The Empire was created by Osman I in 1307. Osman set up his empire in Asia Minor. His successors expanded the empire. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by Sultan Mehmed II which brought the end to another great Empire –the Byzantine. Suleiman the Magnificent at the beginning of the 16th Century was its greatest The “Fall of the Ottoman Empire” is an interesting book. I was preoccupied with determining the exact steps that led to the Empire’s downfall. But first I had to learn of its beginning. The Empire was created by Osman I in 1307. Osman set up his empire in Asia Minor. His successors expanded the empire. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by Sultan Mehmed II which brought the end to another great Empire –the Byzantine. Suleiman the Magnificent at the beginning of the 16th Century was its greatest military leader. He conquered Belgrade, Buda (Budapest), & Rhodes ( a Greek island in the Aegean Sea). He ruled over most of southern Russia, Transylvania, the Balkans, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. He created a military institution which he trained and dedicated to conquering non Islamic lands. Major Events which contributed to their deterioration: In 1683 the Ottoman Empire attempted to subdue Vienna. The great Polish King Jan Sobieski orchestrated a devastating flank and routed the (leader of the Ottoman army) Kara Mustafa Pasha’s army. Later in the same year Austrian troops conquered Ottoman controlled city Esztergon (in modern day Hungary) which became the first Muslim city to be converted to Christianity. In 1768 Sultan Mustafa II made the grave mistake of attacking Catherine the Great's Russia. The Russians responded with a naval victory in the Cosmo harbor. They followed with land victories in Moldova (currently between the Ukraine and Romania) and Kagal (in India). This gave Russia control over the Crimea, Moldavia and Wallachia (Romania). Then a final blow by Russian general Alexander Suvorov into Bulgaria convinced the Ottomans to sue for peace. The resulting peace settlement gave Russia an unmolested trade route to the Black Sea, Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. This left them a lucrative avenue to the Mediterranean Sea. Up until WWI the Ottomans had lost 9 wars. WWI would be their last. Prior to the war, European Powers were eyeing up the spoils of overtaking Ottoman provinces. It should be noted however at various times during Ottoman rule Europe was supportive. They viewed the Ottomans as a check against the Ottomans arch rival Russia. However, Oil as a useful resource and information about many Ottoman holdings having large deposits gave Europe a coveting vision. Over the years prior to WWI, the Empire enjoyed a friendly relationship with Germany. Correspondingly they sided with Germany when the Great War starts. With American President Wilson’s support for England, England was able to provide tremendous resources to its attempt to defeat the Ottomans. Of course, WWI ends with an Allied victory. At the Treaty of Versailles, England and France carved up much of Germany’s productive possessions and a lot of the Ottoman Empire. France obtains rule of Syria and Lebanon. England obtains rule of Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Ottoman Empire was reduced to the single country of Turkey.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    In lieu of today's world events I think it pertinent that we read about the history of one of the most significant Empires to affect the Western world. For some reason it is little known and most of us in the west are guilty of a profound ignorance as to the culture and influence of the Ottoman Empire, and consequently, the religion of Islam and its aggressive spread through out the world. The Ottoman Empire was created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor and what today is kno In lieu of today's world events I think it pertinent that we read about the history of one of the most significant Empires to affect the Western world. For some reason it is little known and most of us in the west are guilty of a profound ignorance as to the culture and influence of the Ottoman Empire, and consequently, the religion of Islam and its aggressive spread through out the world. The Ottoman Empire was created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor and what today is known as the country, Turkey. During the 15th and 16th centuries they became one of the most powerful states in the world, the empire stretching as far as the gates of Vienna, across eastern Europe, and most of what we know today as the middle east: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and northern Africa, including Egypt. Alan Palmer's fine history starts in the seventeenth century, when the Ottomans have become weak and corrupt. Their demise seemed imminent; however, they tottered on for the next couple of centuries, even surviving several European powers and kingdoms. One problem that contributed to their demise was the way the Sultans assumed control. The sultanate stayed in the family but the usual practice of the ruling Sultan to assassinate his siblings was deemed "inhumane" (really?) and so instead he would imprison them in quarters inside his palace where they stayed until it was their turn to rule, if at all. This limited life was hardly training for leadership and it showed in the increasingly incompetent way the succeeding Sultan's ruled. Palmer gives us a nice soap opera ride as we learn of the various sultans, some mentally ill, some paranoid, most of them inept as they try to deal with the ever encroaching European powers hungry for a warm water port. Not to mention oil rich lands. We see the small yet crucial role the Turks played in the initiation of the Crimean war, their diplomatic relations with Russian Tsars, English ambassadors and French and Austrian Kings and Emperors. What led to their demise was the Sultan's increasing dependency on European money. Instead of properly governing their citizens and providing for their welfare, they considered the leadership in the form of an all expense-paid vacation. Their luxuriant lifestyles and extravagant palaces made their states bankrupt and they turned more and more to Europe to borrow money. Even this had its limit and a time came when no country would lend to them. Underneath all of this were divisive groups within the Empire. The Young Turks had become disenchanted with the way the Sultans led and they led a revolutionary regime against the absolutist reign of the Ottoman Sultanate. Finally, during WWI, the Ottomans picked the wrong team. They sided with Germany and when Germany lost, they lost. England, France, and Italian forces came in to divide up the lands occupied by the Ottomans, creating the world map of the area we know today. Armenia and Kurdistan lost their land and those unfortunate people have been homeless and persecuted ever since. This book is instrumental in increasing one's understanding of today's world events in the middle east by enabling us to know its past.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I can't believe I bought this book, much less read it through and rated it 5 stars! Thank you Mr Alan Warwick Palmer for writing in a way to keep a general readers attention, though I still find your list of books completely intimidating. This description of the Ottoman Empire provided me with great context for so many countries in that region, as well as background for so many of the conflicts the world has seen there. # The Balkans War - complete with Albania, the Kosovars, and the surrounding m I can't believe I bought this book, much less read it through and rated it 5 stars! Thank you Mr Alan Warwick Palmer for writing in a way to keep a general readers attention, though I still find your list of books completely intimidating. This description of the Ottoman Empire provided me with great context for so many countries in that region, as well as background for so many of the conflicts the world has seen there. # The Balkans War - complete with Albania, the Kosovars, and the surrounding modern nations of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Romania # The rise of Turkey out of the core of the empire, along with the conflict with Armenia and the "genocide" that is still fiercely debated. Turkey's conflicts with Greece with the results of today's divided Cyprus can all find context in this book. # The history of Russian expansion and loss around the Black Sea, along with the small republic of Georgia - still a source of tension between the "new" Russia and its neighbor. # The very recent history of the Arab nations, Lawrence of Arabia who in 1914 helped galvanize the Arab revolt from the Empire. Tied to this are the very artificial boundaries of Iraq and Jordan, not to mention Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain in contrast to the long history of Persian influence (now Iran). And STILL, the Kurds remain without a homeland ... all 32 million of them. # The history of the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where Algeria, Tunisia, Libya (with both Tripoli and Benghazi as distinct power centers), and Egypt all come alive. # Finally, I gained a new, and low, meaning to the terms and concept of diplomacy as practiced by the European Great Powers. Their constant meddling and Machiavellian alliances with or against the Ottoman Empire is sobering. Again, a wonderful read for bringing history alive in this varied, multicultural region of the world.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I give this book a 2 stars because it focused on the trees rather than the forest. In my reading the book, the author loved details that missed the bigger picture until the last pages of the book. It is interesting how 3 centuries passed from the prediction of the Ottoman Empire before it actually fell after WWI. The problem with the Ottoman empire is that they had a vast multi-ethnic empire with their own cultures and aspiration of statehood without strong communication lines and infrastructure I give this book a 2 stars because it focused on the trees rather than the forest. In my reading the book, the author loved details that missed the bigger picture until the last pages of the book. It is interesting how 3 centuries passed from the prediction of the Ottoman Empire before it actually fell after WWI. The problem with the Ottoman empire is that they had a vast multi-ethnic empire with their own cultures and aspiration of statehood without strong communication lines and infrastructure to keep centralized control. The Ottoman's lasting legacy was leaving a competent bureaucratic civil service and military that has kept the middle east dysfunction functioning. Ottoman strengths include: 1) Successful multi-racial population that were successfully placed under Ottoman rule. Although they kept their conservative characteristics, they borrowed reforms from abroad that was appropriate to their needs. This model partly explains how Turkey became the most Western of the Islamic states with its blend of conservative Islamic values with the forces of globalization. Reform needs to be done slowly so it can be assimilated and not seen as a foreign influence. Reform needsd to be seen as indigenous and not be pushed by a some foreign force. 2) Their use of horses were superior to that of their European counter parts 3) Successful marketing of the Ottoman empire that equated its survival with that of Islam. Weakness include: 1) Sultan needed its vassals to collect taxes 2) Religion was the chief executioner of law and education. What once a source of strength in unifying a diverse empire became a weak inflexible bureaucracy. Religion provided an important check but eventually became more powerful than the Sultan himself. 3) Eventual military technology became outdated despite huge numbers of men. Instead of a loyal army, the Janissaries corps became an entrenched interest group that the Sultan needed to appease leading to them being the kingmakers. Although they maintain stability, entrenched interests make necessary reform stop or slowed down. 4) Succession issues due to large harems that each Sultan had. As a result of these succession issues, each Sultan were not exposed to the world before his rule but instead were kept in kafe. Thus, real power rested on the Ottoman bureaucracy. Historians attributed the Ottoman decline to: 1) Inflation due to influx of silver from Peru 2) Too much loopholes in the byzantine tax system 3) political infighting that stymied progress 4) overpopulation in which the economy could not keep up with population growth 5) inflexible government that does not change with the times Like all declining empires, it is unnecessary war time that precipitated the decline instead of investing in the future of the nation. The Ottoman empire became weak due to continuous military battles. The ghost of the Ottoman military regime became bigger than the actual threat. As with all countries in trouble, war becomes a tool to unite a divided nation. It interesting how Palmer blames the Ottoman decline both on its ineffectual centralized government in relation to its states which he claims had de facto autonomy while blaming centralized bureaucracy as being so fossilized that they were in fact anti-reform. The Ottoman experience by reformist Sultans showed the danger of a reformist platform in the conservative Islamic state. While Sultan's try to Westernize but their subjects are resistant to change. Reading this book, I realized that Washington was correct in warning the new born American republic away from interfering with European shifting alliances and resulting wars that would have only brought disaster to the new nation. The uS is lucky to have peaceful neighbors and two Oceans separating us from any invasion so we can reform our government and military with minimal chance of an invasion. To some Mahmud II was a great reformer but to others he was a despot who enforced policies that other people did not want. Since he was influenced by political intrigue that nearly cost his life, he realized that his empire needed real reform. He had to safeguard his position while pleasing establishment forces within his empire while at the same time showing that the Ottoman empire was still a relevant force in European affairs. He consolidated the Ottoman lands by destroying local autonomy that stood up to Ottoman rule. He also had to destroy entrenched interest in the form of the Jannisery corps that became a bunch of bandits. He did this by placing reformist in key position who were loyal to him and building up religious institutions in order to isolate the Janissery corps from popular support. Because he faced a secular Greek nationalist insurrection inspired by the French revolution, he murdered the Greek Orthodox hierarchy including the Patriarch of Constantinople. This in turn led the secular Greek national movement to combine forces with the Orthodox movement leading to a pan-Greek movement. In this, the US shows how the absolute separation of an established church from the workings of the state is a wise decision. Now that the institution of the Janniaries gone, Mahmud II could concentrate his energies in much needed reforms. The only thing standing in his way was Ali the competent governor of Egypt who ironically was what Mahmud's reforms are based on. While Mahmud II was a visionary, he lacked the subjects to make his vision a reality. Canning believed in armed diplomacy. An allied Franco-Russo-British force created a naval blockade to deny Ibrahim reinforcements by Ali and allow Greek autonomy to live on. Because an alliance was successful in creating a Greek state, Mahmud started a war in a point of weakness like Kim is doing in North Korea today. Europe allowed the Ottoman empire to live on as a buffer to all the European powers. Europe did not want to redraw the balance of power in the region as well as helping other Empires disintegration such as the Hapsburg empire with its multicultural citizenry due to nationalistic tendencies. Furthermore, Europe wanted trade routes to remain open. In the Ottoman Empire versus Russia, we see the seeds to why the Turks joined the NATO alliance. Post-Crimean war reforms brought renewed vitality to the region. It recognized the Ottoman empire as a European power and allowed religious persecuted people refugees brought new vitality to Turkey. It also gave the Sultan access to European finance which he unfortunately spent in the trappings of power such as the building of the Dolmacahche. Although in today's terms one could argue that this was a corrupt use of money, back then there was no accounting that separated the state coffers with that of the Sultans. The Sultan's extravagance was also seen by the common Muslim as abhorrent to the tenets of Islam. The rest of the money was used in infrastructure improvement especially the improvement of communication in the hopes of centralizing command. Despite centralized communication with the advent of telegraph, the Sultan had ineffective control of his far-off states that were really ruled by local leaders thereby giving way to Balkan and later Arab nationalism. It seems that multi-ethnic killings have been rampant in Lebanon and Syria for decades. The empire seemed to be at the mercy of whomever the ruling Sultan ruled. Thank God, American institutions are strong enough to survive any change of power in the leadership position. Here is a good question, will China lend its main partner in the world economy money to go to war against its ally North Korea? A good lesson to learn is that the Sultanate previous borrowing exposed them to external forced in their domestic affairs. Because the paranoid Sultan did not like meddling of European powers in the way he ran their government, financial reform was a a top priority for the Sultan. Eventually, the empire's finances had to be overseen by Europe like what happened to Greek's in today's world. Because of outside interference, the country had to show trappings of a Westernized reform such as a bicameral legislature without any teeth because ultimate power still rested on the Sultan. When Russia finally pushed to hard, the Sultan declared a jihad against the infidel Russians; the Sultan pushed a sense of mission on all Muslims under his direct rule to fight thus marrying religion with nationalism. Wars naturally centralizes power into the executive branch. Unfortunately the next Sultan combined an iron-fist autocratic rule with the extravagance of his predecessor. Europe preferred an efficient Ottoman government to a liberal one. Why does making of government bonds a good idea in fueling infrastructure development? Again, the lesson of long-term government debt that cannot be paid invites foreign interference in domestic politics. The British became interested in Egypt because of the Suez canal and the increase in trade that that brings. Because of financial debt, the Sultan allowed Rothschild financing of the Zionist movement in Palestine against his natural inclination. Although Abdulhamid II was not successful in his geopolitical dealings, he gained respect for being a devout Muslim. He sought to westernize his government in a manner consistent with Islamic values but at a price of being more autocratic. His legacy is that he was able to provide better public education, an agricultural banking system to provide capital, paved roads, and the enforcement of th e rule of law via standardization of the criminal and civil courts. Even with these reforms, the empire under Abdulhamid II had a fundamentalist Islamic characteristic to it. Abdulhamid was obsess with assasination attempts on his life. Adul's natural intelligence was hampered by his suspicious nature. Abdul allowed unchecked tribal massacres including Armenian Christians. It seems to me that it is minority who tended to be successful as capitalist what the Jews are to Europe the Armenians were to the Ottoman's. I wonder if the fact that they are outsiders allowed them to thrive in a country were societal rules were kept. Since Germany did not want anything from the Ottomans, they became their natural ally eventually upgrading military equipment for the Ottoman empire. Once it was known that the Empire had oil and mineral, Germany became interested in the Ottoman empire. In exchange for exclusive rights, Germany created the Ottoman infrastructure. Germans provided arms, infrastructure, and capital to the Ottomans. i understand why the Kaiser was attracted to Islam because it married personal to matter of state in a manner that was unnatural to Christianity. Because of influential and rich Jews were subjects of the Kaiser, he listened with a sympathetic ear to their pleas of Zionism. I think it is interesting that it was German Jews who started the Zionist movement. European progroms pushed the Jews for a need to find a home for Zion. The pre-Zionist settlers just wanted a place where they would not hassle by government interference. Jewish European refugee settlers defednded themselves against Arab raiders who did not like the refugees. Young Turk nationalist movement allowed the mock Abdul parliamentary reforms to be a real republic movement. They sought Abdul II to be a true constitutional monarchy but they sought to keep the empire independent from Europe interference. The young Turk movement coincided with other nationalist movement such as Greece and Bulgaria. They ideologically sought to create a Muslim capitalist bourgeois society that is proud of its Turkish heritage with all ottoman subjects enjoying equal rights regardless of their faith. Everyone would be subjected to the rule of law. Article 3 of the Constitution held that Parliament had the right to depose any Sultan who did not uphold Islamic law for the faithful and the Constitution. With the rise of the CPU, the Sultan purse was separated from State influence. The Young Turks advocated the secularization of the law thereby separating established Islamic religion with state affairs including greater opportunities for women. The advent of WWI destroyed the CPU nascent democratic movement through bankruptcy and dictatorship due to war. The Ottoman's sided with the German's because of the Kaiser relationship with the Sultan and the fact that the British commandeered ships that were sold to Ottoman's because of the start of WWI. The Sultan called for jihad against the infidels. During WWI, the Turks were able to wage a war of attrition via guerrilla war denying the enemy from declaring total victory. Although the Ottoman empire rebuffed Etente army successfully, there bankrupt coffers as well as food shortage, and runaway inflation made it reliant on German subsidized support. While the Etente powers fostered Arab nationalism to occupy German coffers and military in the middle east instead of focusing its forces in the West. After the war, the middle east was parsed into an allied military protectorate. With siding with the losers of the war, the Ottoman's Sultan became a puppet of the Western powers. European preferred autocratic rule that bended to their will rather than a true democracy. For the West, democratic rule looked liked communism and thus had to be dissuaded. Under this explanation, I can see how J Edgar Hoover's FBI saw the civil rights movement as communist plot against America. In seeking to save the Armenian Christians from Islamic persecution, Wilson proposed self-determination. When it was clear that the allied powers wanted to break up the Ottoman empire under specific countries military, Wilson proposed that America would set up an Armenian protectorate and Constantinople under US banner which Congress was rightly hostile to. Whereas Britain seems to have a natural interventionist nature, the US tend to be isolationist with 2 ocean separating us from the world. But as our ascendency to superpower status following the European ashes of WWII, everyone looks to us as both leadership or its main adversary which means we do not have to look far for war to visit our shores. I personally think that the US as the reluctant warrior is a good thing that we inherited from George Washington. We do not start fights including preemptive war but we sure finish them. No one doubts the US military capabilities in the wake of two gulf wars but can we win the peace? To enforce a humiliating terms of defeat, the war weary allies had to occupy Turkey with 325,000 troops which they were not willing to do. It allowed Ottoman troops to go under the banner of Kemal. Because he was angry that the allies continued to support the ineffectual Sultan, Kemal via the parliament declared that Turkey would be a secular state outside the purview of religion. He thus created a secular Turkish republic that lives on today. Unrest led to Kemal's commission which in turn led to Turkish self-determination with a call for parliamentary elections. Kemal became the epicenter of the Turkish nationalist movement in response to Allied occupation and the reestablishment of Sultan's autocratic rule. Greece became the flash point for Turkish military movement under Kemal.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rindis

    The title of Palmer's book is generally familiar, and he acknowledges directly that he's writing a similar book to Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the introduction. However, this is a '90s book for a more casual audience, and so isn't anywhere near as long or as moralizing as Gibbon's classic. And... maybe a little moralizing would help. He does a good job describing a lot of the events of the Ottoman Empire's slow breakup, but never really tries to posit any real reason why such a strong The title of Palmer's book is generally familiar, and he acknowledges directly that he's writing a similar book to Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the introduction. However, this is a '90s book for a more casual audience, and so isn't anywhere near as long or as moralizing as Gibbon's classic. And... maybe a little moralizing would help. He does a good job describing a lot of the events of the Ottoman Empire's slow breakup, but never really tries to posit any real reason why such a strong state should come apart, and why it took so much longer to do so than many outside observers assumed. A large part of this, is that you never get a good picture of the Empire as a whole, with the bulk of the attention being tied up with the person of the Sultan, and innermost circle of advisers and diplomats. Palmer picks the failure of the second siege of Vienna (1683) as the starting point of his book, which seems to be a good one. I had not realized just how battered the Empire was in the next few years, with revolts in Greece, and various European powers picking up what they could. But like the Byzantine Empire before them, the Ottomans recover, and retake almost everything that was lost. After a decent amount of detail in this section, coverage becomes light, but slowly picks up detail again, with the 19th Century (understandably) taking up a fair amount of the book. The various diplomatic maneuverings of Europe around the 'sick man' are covered in more and more detail as time passes. WWI itself isn't as detailed, but the actual fighting of the war is not the primary focus. Instead, we get good broad accounts of the activity on the fronts, increasing Arab restlessness, and the maneuverings of the men at the top. The 'post WWI' struggles of Kemal, and the final fall of the Sultanate and Caliphate are handled in some detail. It's a very good introductory account of all these events, and probably at its strongest at the beginning and the end, which deal with subjects that don't get enough coverage in histories. The real shortcoming is the lack of any kind of look at how it all came to be. There's a good amount on the efforts to 'Westernize' (and to resist Westernizing) the Empire late in its life, but Palmer does little to show just how the Ottomans ended up with with a dysfunctional system that left them unable (or likely, unwilling) to adapt, and unable to impose its will within its own borders.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Gay

    Interesting material, a good level of focus, and an easy-to-follow writing style that isn't way too academic. Great read if you're interested in the history of the Ottoman Empire (a subject that there aren't an overwhelming number of books on).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Mervosh

    Nothing overly original here, but a fine overview of the decline of one of history's often overlooked empires.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    DNF 50%. I liked one of the other reviews that said it focused on the trees rather than the forest...it was like listening to someone tell a story who felt like they had to tell you every tiny detail, and you wonder if you will ever get to the good part.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Debeehr

    Lots of information but probably not the best introduction to someone who doesn't already have a good knowledge of the subject.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Kyriazis

    a superb study in the grand old tradition, reminding us of tulips, the enormous size & population of the Ottoman Empire (3 times the population of France) and its essential continuity with Byzantium (the Sultan was also Rum Kayseri, Roman Caesar, a title not relinquished until 1923, the Patriarch recognized him as Caesar and Sultan, and the Ottoman Empire, like the Byzantine, remained a polyglot, multi-religious & multi-ethnic empire which was tolerant of homosexuality, drug use, polyamory, hare a superb study in the grand old tradition, reminding us of tulips, the enormous size & population of the Ottoman Empire (3 times the population of France) and its essential continuity with Byzantium (the Sultan was also Rum Kayseri, Roman Caesar, a title not relinquished until 1923, the Patriarch recognized him as Caesar and Sultan, and the Ottoman Empire, like the Byzantine, remained a polyglot, multi-religious & multi-ethnic empire which was tolerant of homosexuality, drug use, polyamory, harems, and lacking in race discrimination utterly. The Ottomans/Byzantines/Romans were much more like modern America than any other countries in history. They merit more study in an integrated fashion paying less attention to roman, greek and turk and more attention to the continuities from 776 BC to 1923 AD.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paulo Mendes

    Este é um trabalho bastante interessante sobre o Império Otomano. O autor descreve todas as eras do Império com uma linguagem clara. Eu gostei particularmente da segunda metade do livro onde podemos ligar os eventos atuais no Oriente Médio com aqueles que ocorreram na Europa no final do século 19 e início do século 20. This is a quite interesting work on the Ottoman Empire. The author describe all ages of the Empire with a clear language. I've particularly enjoyed the last half of the book where Este é um trabalho bastante interessante sobre o Império Otomano. O autor descreve todas as eras do Império com uma linguagem clara. Eu gostei particularmente da segunda metade do livro onde podemos ligar os eventos atuais no Oriente Médio com aqueles que ocorreram na Europa no final do século 19 e início do século 20. This is a quite interesting work on the Ottoman Empire. The author describe all ages of the Empire with a clear language. I've particularly enjoyed the last half of the book where we can link the current events in Middle East with those that happened in Europe in the end of XIX and beginning of XX century.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Really enjoyed learning about one of the most important, yet often overlooked empires in world history. It's baffling to realize how many of the great European conflicts were started in Ottoman lands. I also enjoyed the attention given to the personalities and quirks of the many sultans - it makes the history come alive. If you want to better understand the current problems in the Middle East and the Balkans this is your book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Leonard

    Good coverage of Ottoman government beginning in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. Much detail on the last 50 to 100 years of failure after failure and the internal struggles of a failing system... with the help of the major powers at the time. Gives some perspective to the problems of today in the Balkans, Crete and elsewhere.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ian Racey

    Solid history of the Ottoman Empire from the defeat at Vienna in 1683 to the flight of the last sultan, Mehmed VI, from Constantinople in 1922. Prose was at times thick enough that I had to read it aloud to stay engaged, but it was really accessible and I know a lot more now about the topic than I did before.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This was a very readable book, delivering what its title promises, a history of the Ottoman Empire after its troops fail to capture Vienna in 1687. Most of the book is spent on the last 100 years or so. It was a very good overview of the decline.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    I knew very little about the topic of this book before I started it. I do understand this area of history much better now. The book was well written and interesting, but it would have helped to put some maps in.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eddy

    Sintese competente de um tempo historico pouco conhecido. Em portugues

  18. 5 out of 5

    K

    Awesome!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aditya

    Somewhat colorless, but very well researched.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hashim Sardar

    It's an amazing book, unlike other history books, this one is not dry at all. This book is entirely and specifically focused on the decline of the Empire. A must read for history buffs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Curtis

    I found the writing a bit dry . Straight forward narrative with little analysis.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick Wallace

    What's good: watching an apparent military colossus blunder its way to destruction. What's bad: that it takes so long to get there.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Atagozli

  24. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Lambourn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Nikolic

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hubmasaq anyone

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Horton

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marcos

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