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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan, and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923, fast creating his own legend. Andrew Man Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan, and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923, fast creating his own legend. Andrew Mango's revealing portrait of Atatürk throws light on matters of great importance today-resurgent nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and the reality of democracy.


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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan, and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923, fast creating his own legend. Andrew Man Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was virtually unknown until 1919, when he took the lead in thwarting the victorious Allies' plan to partition the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire. He divided the Allies, defeated the last Sultan, and secured the territory of the Turkish national state, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923, fast creating his own legend. Andrew Mango's revealing portrait of Atatürk throws light on matters of great importance today-resurgent nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and the reality of democracy.

30 review for Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Ataturk is a hard man to sum up. A brilliant leader, a supporter of the Enlightenment and an enemy of religious obscurantism, he managed to drag Turkey by the scruff of its neck into the modern era and create the basis for a semi-European society there. He was more responsible than anyone for preserving Turkey's independence and territorial integrity after the First World War, and the Turks will never be allowed to forget it! While he believed in democracy, he was smart enough to know that the T Ataturk is a hard man to sum up. A brilliant leader, a supporter of the Enlightenment and an enemy of religious obscurantism, he managed to drag Turkey by the scruff of its neck into the modern era and create the basis for a semi-European society there. He was more responsible than anyone for preserving Turkey's independence and territorial integrity after the First World War, and the Turks will never be allowed to forget it! While he believed in democracy, he was smart enough to know that the Turks weren't ready for it, and he also realized that, whatever happened, Turkey was better off with him personally at the wheel, which he was until his death. His un-abstemiousness is what probably killed him in the end, Ataturk enjoying the pleasures of strong drink, all-night partying, chain smoking and feminine company almost right to the end. Andrew Mango has written a thorough and entertaining account of this fascinating man's life, and it would be unthinkable to try and understand modern Turkey without a knowledge of Ataturk's thoughts and deeds. He is to be commended for carefully keeping his narrative in historical context, and personalities and events are described to aid those not familiar with modern Turkish and Ottoman history. There is even a helpful list of short biographies of other characters. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert Morris

    A great book. At 500 pages, it still feels like a whirlwind tour through the life of the father of the Turkish Republic. The man got an incredible amount done in a sadly short life. Prior to reading the book I only had a broad stroke sense of it, but this book makes the sheer scale of his achievement clear. Ataturk, and the people surrounding him, managed to reverse 200 years of decline and place Turkey on an upswing. That they were able to do this while being besieged by the victors of World Wa A great book. At 500 pages, it still feels like a whirlwind tour through the life of the father of the Turkish Republic. The man got an incredible amount done in a sadly short life. Prior to reading the book I only had a broad stroke sense of it, but this book makes the sheer scale of his achievement clear. Ataturk, and the people surrounding him, managed to reverse 200 years of decline and place Turkey on an upswing. That they were able to do this while being besieged by the victors of World War I, and without the middle class that their predecessors had deported/executed is truly extraordinary. Mango manages to provide the outlines of this accomplishment, and much of its historical context both briefly and enjoyably. Mango manages to avoid outright hagiography, pointing out Ataturk's many flaws and getting a lot closer to an honest description of the Armenian issue than I thought you could get while publishing in Turkey. As is probably inevitable in a biography, most of the supporting characters come across as one-dimensional. The men and women surrounding him are either dedicated idealists, or thuggish hangers-on there doesn't seem to be much in between. None of the other characters get more than one note to play. Mango's description of Ismet Inonu also seems to strain credibility a bit. Nobody could be that capable. Mango refers to Ataturk as a "man of the enlightenment" on a couple of occasions and I like that formulation. You could see him as the last, and one of the greatest exemplars of that tradition. In a century of Romantic Tyrants pursuing a range of totalitarianisms, he was an old fashioned enlightened despot who built the forms of a representative democracy that did eventually follow him. He was allowed to do this because his ruined country provided him with an opportunity. As Rahm Emanuel once put it, you should never let a good crisis go to waste. This man certainly did not.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

    Andrew Mango is a professional historian who has written a book for other professional historians. Hailed as the "definitive biography" of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, it is marked by the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. On the one hand, it's very well-researched, very detailed and very exacting with respect to the likely truthfulness of the sources cited. On the other hand, it's overly detailed, it follows a rigid chronological form, keeps up an unvarying tempo, and is quite boring. Mango is Andrew Mango is a professional historian who has written a book for other professional historians. Hailed as the "definitive biography" of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, it is marked by the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. On the one hand, it's very well-researched, very detailed and very exacting with respect to the likely truthfulness of the sources cited. On the other hand, it's overly detailed, it follows a rigid chronological form, keeps up an unvarying tempo, and is quite boring. Mango is a historian who can't tell a story to save his life. Nor is the book generally very analytical about the man, his country, or his incredible times. For the most part, it's a dry recitation of facts and events. You should only read this book if you have a deep and abiding interest in modern Turkish history and want to know the gritty details. Having said all that, here's the rough summary of the story: Mustapha Kemal Ataturk is a revered figure in Turkey. His statues grace many city squares, his photo hangs on the wall of every government office. He is a sort of George Washington and Napoleon all rolled into one, and because he only died in 1938, he is still within the memory of elderly Turks still living. His accomplishments lay in many fields. On the military front, he first came to national attention as one of the commanding generals in the Battle of Gallipolli in 1915, when the Turks defeated an invading force of British, Australians and New Zealanders, with very heavy casualties on both sides. Coming in the midst of World War I, a war where Turkish victories were few and far between, it helped salvage Turkish national pride. In the wake of the loss of the war, the Ottoman Empire was largely dismembered by the victorious Allies, with pieces going to various Balkan countries, Greece, Armenia, and assorted newly created Middle Eastern states controlled by the French and British. The empire was reduced to a rump that was soon to be called simply "Turkey". Even that rump was endangered when the Greek Army invaded the Aegean coast and started pushing inland into Anatolia. In the midst of this disastrous situation, Ataturk seized the initiative in organizing senior military leaders along with some civilian ones to put together a new regime, completely parallel to the still-functioning Ottoman administration under the Sultan in Istanbul, which was under the thumb of the occupying Allies. Setting up a de facto new capital inland in Ankara, Ataturk steadily eroded the credibility, authority and political power of the Ottoman regime. It was this new government that put together the army that eventually stopped the Greek advance in August 1921 at the Battle of Sakarya. Biding his time, by one year later in 1922 Ataturk felt strong enough to attack the Greek forces and start pushing them out of Anatolia. In the two-day battle of Dumlupinar, he routed the Greek army, which retreated in disorder to the Aegean coast and was soon evacuated back to Greece. The Turkish army followed hot on its heels, and retook the main coastal city of Izmir (known as Smyrna to the Greeks). Allied warships then evacuated over 200,000 civilians, almost the entire Greek population, as the city burned. And so ended over two millennia of Greek presence in Anatolia. This spectacular and unexpected victory re-established Turkey as a serious power that the wartime Allies, who still occupied Istanbul and various other parts of the country, had to negotiate with. Within less than a year, the Turks negotiated a new treaty at Lausanne, which is the only major treaty of the immediate post World War I era to survive to this day. By its terms, the Allies withdrew their forces, renounced their special privileges, and recognized the borders of the new Turkey. The remaining Greek civilians from various parts of the country, especially Istanbul, the Sea of Marmara coast and the Black Sea coast, were expelled and in return Turks from the Balkans and Greece were sent to Turkey. The sultan was sent packing, the caliphate ended, and Ataturk was the (almost) unchallenged leader of the new Republic of Turkey. If Ataturk had ended his career then and there, he would still be a revered figure. But he remained in power for another 15 years, during which time he remade Turkish society. He believed that Turkey would forever be dominated by the West unless it modernized and became "civilized". To this end, he implemented countless changes: he abolished the old Arabic script and created a new Turkish alphabet based on the Roman alphabet. Arabic and Persian words were banned from the new Turkish, to be replaced with Turkish terms or loan-words from Western languages. The Islamic calendar was replaced with the Western one. The fez was abolished and civil servants required to wear European hats. Islam was dis-established as the state religion. Religious schools were closed and replaced with secular ones. Foreign-owned enterprises were nationalized. The national railway network was vastly enlarged. Women were given legal rights for the first time, including the right to inherit, to vote and to serve as elected representatives. The capital was moved from Istanbul to Ankara. It must have been quite dizzying for Turks, especially those in the educated elite. Meanwhile, Ataturk put in place the form of a political democracy without much of its substance. When the Kurds revolted (as they did more than once) against the suppression of their language, it was brutally put down, and their leaders executed in a mass hanging. The opposition party -- created at Ataturk's behest by his own allies -- was quickly banned a few months later. The independent press was shut down. Opponents were arrested and in some rare cases executed on trumped-up charges. Even Ataturk's own comrades in arms, if they became too powerful, soon found themselves shunted aside and even arrested. Ataturk created and transformed modern Turkey, but by the time of his death of cirrhosis of the liver in 1938, it remained a backward country. With a population comprised overwhelmingly of rural peasants, the illiteracy rate remained above 80%. The loss of the Greek and Armenian populations was crippling to the economy, since they had made up almost the whole of the commercial and craftsmen classes, and almost all of them had emigrated or been slaughtered in the Great War and the War of Independence. Their skills took a long time to replace. Still, the country was steadily modernized. Although it took the better part of three generations, long after Ataturk's death, by the end of the twentieth century Turkey had joined the ranks of the fast-growing developing nations, and was a regional super-power. It even has a genuine functioning democracy with an Islamist party in power. And even through Ataturk was himself a secular autocrat, modern Turkey is very much his legacy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Anderson

    This is a wildly apologetic and slanted biography of the founder of the State of Turkey. That said, any adult with an outline of 20th Century geopolitics will pretty easily read between the lines. Kemal Ataturk was an autocrat who skirted around the edges of a sort of National Socialism Lite. But, as these are the realities, this is the texture and the framework that makes Ataturk such an interesting figure—a sort of modernist benevolent dictator. Benevolent, I suppose, unless you are a politica This is a wildly apologetic and slanted biography of the founder of the State of Turkey. That said, any adult with an outline of 20th Century geopolitics will pretty easily read between the lines. Kemal Ataturk was an autocrat who skirted around the edges of a sort of National Socialism Lite. But, as these are the realities, this is the texture and the framework that makes Ataturk such an interesting figure—a sort of modernist benevolent dictator. Benevolent, I suppose, unless you are a political opponent. Mapping the development of Ataturk's nationalism, which he turned into the idea of Turkey and Turkishness, and managed to foist upon the vast and varied peoples of Anatolia, becomes some of the most fascinating reading in this narrative. Most probably unawares, Ataturk formulated a melange of history & pseudo-history, fanciful language, and whole-cloth "national character" that echos strangely off of the edges of Irish Nationalism, Black Power, and Naziism, all movements roughly contemporary with his own program. Mango's biography of Ataturk would generally satisfy the personality cult even now current in Turkey, and generally fails to expose the subject's more monstrous flaws and actions. But after a perhaps slow start it is a genuinely good and lively read, and highly informative. Students of our current Middle East will benefit from understanding the place of the Ottomans and the Turkish state and nation in context and detail.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Mustafa Kemal was arguably the most important man to live in the 20th century. Not only did he save Turkey from being carved by the West into unrecognizable pieces like the Arab states (inaugurating a seemingly endless period of political dysfunction), he was the prototype for the secularizing military strongman. He has inspired countless imitators, right up to people like Pervez Musharraf and Abdulfattah Sisi, none of whom have ever been able to match his success either on the battlefield or in Mustafa Kemal was arguably the most important man to live in the 20th century. Not only did he save Turkey from being carved by the West into unrecognizable pieces like the Arab states (inaugurating a seemingly endless period of political dysfunction), he was the prototype for the secularizing military strongman. He has inspired countless imitators, right up to people like Pervez Musharraf and Abdulfattah Sisi, none of whom have ever been able to match his success either on the battlefield or in his effort at cultural revolution. We are still feeling the effects of Ataturk's heroic efforts in the Turkish War on Independence, as well as his traumatic attempt at de-Islamizing of Turkish society, as well as the abolishment of the last historically legitimate Caliphate. His record is very mixed. He instituted a type of Mao Zedong-like cultural long march towards Westernization (a specific type of Westernization that even Westerners became disillusioned with), and that partly counts against him, but on balance, at the end of the day he kept Turkey alive. Although he created a form of authoritarian politics which survives, he gave his country a chance to become something it wants to be, however long that might take, by keeping it intact in the face of imperialist aggression. It is also very notable that unlike many other rulers for whom there is vast a cultural and educational between them and their people, he didn't despite them. In fact, he clearly loved them. He wanted to create them in an image that resembled him (he said as much) but he did so because he thought that would be the only way they could survive in the ruthless world of modernity. Many of his shabby contemporary knockoffs on the other hand clearly hold their uneducated people in contempt, and use them instead as a vehicle for extracting wealth and power. Ataturk did not enrich himself vastly or create a hereditary dynasty, he truly did what he thought was best. Ultimately, although some of his decisions were misguided, even disastrous, he succeeded in creating something that has survived and even allowed his people to thrive; at a time when they had faced a future of absolute devastation. The book itself is detailed, based on Turkish sources, and probably even necessary reading for people with an interest in this subject. Having said that it is for the most part a dry recitation of fact, and is by no means a gripping or accessible read. Nonetheless is still a herculean effort at telling this story in great detail (maybe even too much detail at times), so I can't detract too much from it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed Montasser

    I got this book for one reason, I wanted to know how one person succeeded in distancing Islam and people in a country that was once the heart of the Muslim Caliphate. I have heard stories from Muslim scholars about Mostafa Kemal, and to me most of what I heard sounded like a conspiracy theory, so I needed to get the story from an "unbiased" source so I got this book during my last trip to Istanbul. The book itself is too detailed to my taste, sometimes it felt like reading chronicles, also too mu I got this book for one reason, I wanted to know how one person succeeded in distancing Islam and people in a country that was once the heart of the Muslim Caliphate. I have heard stories from Muslim scholars about Mostafa Kemal, and to me most of what I heard sounded like a conspiracy theory, so I needed to get the story from an "unbiased" source so I got this book during my last trip to Istanbul. The book itself is too detailed to my taste, sometimes it felt like reading chronicles, also too much military details were given, probably I have felt this way because I was only interested in one aspect of the man's life, his religious views and beliefs. The author made it clear that Mostafa Kemal didn't really believe in religion, as he related it many times to superstitions, but according to the author, Kemal's reasons to drop Islam were mainly because he felt that for Turkey to advance and become a civilized country of this world, they have to follow the western model of civilization, in which secularism is cornerstone, this went to the extreme of changing the Turkish language to use the Latin alphabet instead of the Arabic one. The author seemed to fully accept that Islam was responsible for the backwardness of Turkey in the beginning of the 20th century, and that giving it up was the right thing to do. The other thing, is that Mostafa Kemal was a nationalist, so he believed in Turkey for the Turkish people instead of a Muslim nation that combines all races, he was also a firm believer of the superiority and the nobility of the Turkish race, this led him to the "Turkization" of Turkey which hosted back then a mixture of all the nations that comprised the Muslim world, this obsession with Turkization led to the creation of an almost new language in which all words with non-Turkish roots were eliminated and replaced with a new Turkish vocabulary, he also insisted that the call for prayer (Azan) to be recited in Turkish which remained that way until the 50's, he also tried to make the prayers themselves to be in Turkish, which wasn't really possible. So, with regards to the conspiracy theory, the author makes it clear that the choices of Mostafa Kemal were coming form his beliefs that Westernization and Nationalism were the only way for Turkey to progress, I have no way to judge, as I didn't see what's inside his heart, but when I was searching for the word "Donmeh" which describes the ethnicity of Mostafa Kemal, I found this definition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donmeh) which leaves all possibilities open.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Sharpe

    Mango's Ataturk must certainly be the most authoritative and accessible English biography of Ataturk available. Mango's detailed biography is a chronological narrative that starts with a clear account of Mustafa Kemal's family, place of birth and origins and ends with the death of the great leader and the fall out thereof. This sweeping biography is placed in the context of late Ottoman decline and early 20th century European strife and conflict and seeks to understand the nationalistic ideals t Mango's Ataturk must certainly be the most authoritative and accessible English biography of Ataturk available. Mango's detailed biography is a chronological narrative that starts with a clear account of Mustafa Kemal's family, place of birth and origins and ends with the death of the great leader and the fall out thereof. This sweeping biography is placed in the context of late Ottoman decline and early 20th century European strife and conflict and seeks to understand the nationalistic ideals that motivated and informed Kemal from the beginning to the end of his career. Mango has tried to capture the full picture of Kemal and searches to separate fact from legend (not always easy) and present a full picture of the man: his strengths, weaknesses and insecurities. Kemal's life is certainly an interesting one and the rich color that infuses this book from beginning to end makes it an enjoyable and stunning biography that anyone with the slightest interest in modern Turkey's origins and the development of Turkey as the nation state it is today should read. As noted above, Ataturk's life and legacy is inextricably linked to the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of Turkish nationalism and the modern state of Turkey. It is on this canvas which Mango carefully crafts a lucid and clear narrative that helps to develop as complete an understanding of the many faces of Ataturk as is possible. This canvas is filled with an extraordinary number of other characters and events that were pivotal in the formation of Ataturk the man. The events covered include the first Balkan's war, the rise of the CUP or Young Turks, World War I and the Gallipoli Campaign, the Turkish War of Independence against the Greeks and the allies and the negotiations and treaties signed by Turkey to ensure Turkey's claim to nationhood and to become a part of the global constellation of independent countries. As for people, the last Caliphs and Sultans are included as are the young Turks (Talat and Enver) and some other brutal character such as the ruthless and cruel Bearded Nurettin and Ali Faut and Ismet Ionu. Manogo shows that from a young age Ataturk understood the needs of the Ottoman state, understood the weaknesses that threatened it and as he grew and matured seemed to grasp the remedies required to fix the then Ottoman State. Among Ataturk's main gripes were the influence of religion amongst the Turks and how they viewed menial tasks as being beneath them and how religious education took precedent over the acquisition of practical skills that were required to shift the state forward. Indeed, at the end of the Turkish War of Independence and after all the great dislocations of people in Anatolia, basic skill sets for simple jobs were in great need. Ataturk's complete deconstruction of the religious structures, his dislike of the religious schools and of the Hoca are evident throughout his adult life. Ataturk from a young age, deeply influenced by the French revolution and ideals, had a clear desire for the separation of Religion and State. Additionally, he also encouraged the military and the state to be separate entities and understood clearly the need for a polity separated from the military. One of the most interesting parts of this book is the creating of the Turkish state: from Mustafa Kemal's exile in Anatolia in the early 1920's to the development of parliament in Ankara and the influence he had without the support of a military shows the tremendous tact, political nous and incredible influence he had among the people he would lead. The development of the Turkish state from 1923 through to his death in the late 1930s is an interesting period of his life and one that is worth spending time on. There is no getting around the fact that Kemal was a dictator. Apparently he didn't like to be called that and Mango argues that perhaps Kemal should be viewed as a latter day king. However, the fact is he did rule over a one party state for much of his presidency and although the trappings of democracy were being developed under his guidance, he was loathe to cede power. I have heard it said elsewhere that Hitler called him a communist, Stalin a Fascist and the western powers a dictator: whatever the case may be, the Turks today call him The Father of he Turks (Ataturk). His legacy was one of independence, freedom, emancipation from the yoke of religion, emancipation from the trappings of an old sick empire and ultimately, the greatest gift he gave to the Turks was a stable state that had the political structures to grow into a modern, independent state at peace with its neighbors. Mango's comprehensive biography of this amazing and incredible life is worth the read. His writing is clear and lucid, his narrative colorful and eventful. This is the perfect biography of Ataturk for those with a passing interest in the man and his life and times. A tremendous introduction to late Ottoman decline, the creation of the Turkish state and the development of the structures needed to ensure the longevity of the state. Ataturk was born an Ottoman and died a Turk and his life and times were certainly interesting.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Omar Taufik

    This book was simply wonderful, well written and full of useful information. The author Andrew Mango a British national born in early three year old republican Istanbul 1926 depended on Turkish sources to write this great autobiography on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the founder of the modern republic of Turkey. The author takes us from early bringing up in late Ottoman Salonica to military education in Macedonia and Istanbul bringing Mustafa Kemal into the world of politics and revolutionaries. He then This book was simply wonderful, well written and full of useful information. The author Andrew Mango a British national born in early three year old republican Istanbul 1926 depended on Turkish sources to write this great autobiography on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the founder of the modern republic of Turkey. The author takes us from early bringing up in late Ottoman Salonica to military education in Macedonia and Istanbul bringing Mustafa Kemal into the world of politics and revolutionaries. He then introduces us to Mustafa Kemal the successful military leader in both the great war and war of independence to then reach the final stage of Mustafa Kemal the founder then president the Republic of Turkey. Within this book the reader will be exposed to a great number of subjects which include : Politics, a great deal of complicated politics from the opposition to Sultan Abdülhamit II to the Young Turks period to the great war and the struggle against the allies ending with the establishment of the Republic in 1923. The complicated political scene continues with internal struggles for power between senior names in the history of the Republic which eventually cools down by 1927 but to still have the scene continue with the political performance of Atatürk along with his special right hand İsmet İnönü. Idealogy and human thought was displayed and discussed with great talent by the author. Atatürk personal side was also discussed including family history and his own personal life at it's different stages. Late Ottoman History was brilliantly accounted for and displayed to the reader. The famous Kemalist reforms were discussed along with the various reactions with or against it. Interrelations between various ethnic and religious groups especially in the middle east. I believe the author did give us a reasonable objective and fair account on Mustafa Kemal Paşa where he did actually give his criticism on some of the events and information on various debatable subjects. I highly recommend this book for a reader wishing to gain a comprehensive picture on the subject of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk but strongly believe that having a basic idea on Ottoman and Middle East history along with early 20 century history will help in understanding the book and it's rich material and content. I will definitely depend on this book whenever I need a reference on this subject and other related subjects mentioned in the book being a great piece of work by the late author may he rest in peace.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Too much detail with not enough analysis. The writing style is clumsy and often obscures rather than illuminates. And most of all for a political biography, well for any biography at all actually, the reader does not get a feel for the subject. The author sometimes hints and sometimes says quite bluntly that Ataturk hid his tracks rather well. There is an Ataturk history industry that has been assiduously building, renovating and burying this mans life since the early twenties. One small example Too much detail with not enough analysis. The writing style is clumsy and often obscures rather than illuminates. And most of all for a political biography, well for any biography at all actually, the reader does not get a feel for the subject. The author sometimes hints and sometimes says quite bluntly that Ataturk hid his tracks rather well. There is an Ataturk history industry that has been assiduously building, renovating and burying this mans life since the early twenties. One small example. He was not racially purely Turkish. But it seems this has been covered up. There is conjecture that his family's origins are at least, in part, Jewish converts from Salonika, Slav and Albanian. It can only be conjecture as there is no proof. Generally, Turks do not have the blue eyes and light hair of Ataturk. This assiduous "history-making" on the part of Ataturk and later of the state, undoubtedly would make it impossible to get to the development of Ataturk's ideas. He seemingly had the same ideas from 17 until his death. For an astute, pragmatic, intelligent man, this is highly unlikely. His revolution was from the top. There was not enough native-born Turks in that class loosely called the intelligentsia that makes revolutions or thinks about them. His particular vision was a society based upon the enlightenment, that while democratic in many ways, was not going to broach opposition particularly from reactionary religion. Much of this history was new to me. I did not know that the European imperial powers wanted present-day Turkey split into small backward states dependent on great powers to survive. Greece was to have almost half of Turkey. There would be an Armenian state which would have had the same relationship that Syria had to France before World War Two, namely a virtual dependency. There would have also been spheres of influence for Italy and Britain. In other words, it was an unstable, brittle territorial settlement continually teetering on the edge of disaster. Unlike many of the authoritarian leaders of the '20s and '30s, he was not a bloodthirsty psychotic. He was undoubtedly ruthless, but he was careful and practical. And by the end of this biography, this is as much as I knew about the man.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mahmoud Ashour

    "Ataturk was a competent commander, a shrewd politician, a statesman of supreme realism, But above all, he was a man of the enlightenment. And the enlightenment was not made by saints."-Andrew Mango. "He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; It is as if he would catch his people in a trap."- Ataturk "He wanted to persuade his people that modern civilization and Islam were compatible. Then he lost interest in the argument, not because he had been denied the caliphate but beca "Ataturk was a competent commander, a shrewd politician, a statesman of supreme realism, But above all, he was a man of the enlightenment. And the enlightenment was not made by saints."-Andrew Mango. "He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; It is as if he would catch his people in a trap."- Ataturk "He wanted to persuade his people that modern civilization and Islam were compatible. Then he lost interest in the argument, not because he had been denied the caliphate but because he decided that Islamic feeling hindered the realization of his project." "One evening when he went to the Opera, Mustafa Kemal asked whether all the singers and musicians were Bulgarians. Told that they were, he exclaimed: "Now I understand why the Bulgarians won the Balkan war." The first half of the book talks about the childhood and early adulthood of Mustafa Kemal along with the history of the Ottoman Empire during the early 20th century including the Balkan wars and WWI. The second half discusses the war of independence, the following years of the fall of the caliphate, the cultural revolution, Turkey under Ataturk's leadership and how it moved from a devastated backward country into a modern force with an enlighted educated population. Reading this book, even though it was long and slow, was a very enjoyable and enlightening feat. Ataturk was an extraordinary leader who did not just succeed in liberating his nation from the UK, France, Italy, Greece, and Armenia after the Turkish army was destroyed in WWI, but who also managed to enlighten the whole population of turkey. Turkey during the late Ottoman empire period was falling in myth, ignorance and general backwardness in all fields of life. Women were not emancipated until Ataturk came to power. Without Ataturk's cultural revolution Turkey would have still been in the Middle ages like many other Muslim countries today. I hope the leaders of the Arab world read this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    K

    If an expatriate is going to live in Turkey, this book is almost required reading because it is about the person most beloved throughout the nation: Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. I enjoyed this book because it was interesting to see how one person with vision saw enormous opportunity in the decline of the Ottoman Empire and created something completely new. The average leader could get get bogged down in mourning the loss of territory, wealth, and power the Ottoman Empire was exp If an expatriate is going to live in Turkey, this book is almost required reading because it is about the person most beloved throughout the nation: Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. I enjoyed this book because it was interesting to see how one person with vision saw enormous opportunity in the decline of the Ottoman Empire and created something completely new. The average leader could get get bogged down in mourning the loss of territory, wealth, and power the Ottoman Empire was experiencing. Ataturk shrewdly knew what was defensible and what was not. He literally "rebranded" an entire nation, calling it "Turkey" and defended it against the Allied Powers. Today, the Turks are proud to be the only Islamic country that has never been colonized. Coming from America, which now celebrates multi-culturalism, this book helped me understand why Turkish people find multi-culturalism so threatening. At the time of the War of Independence, Turkey was threatened with being "nibbled away" by various ethnic groups claiming "Turkish" land for "their people." With Ataturk's leadership, the land mass known as "Turkey" is one piece and one nation. The Turks have begun updating their dated thinking on multiculturalism with the beginnings of a more liberalized attitude toward the Kurds, but there is a long way to go yet. Turkish attitudes towards ethnically-diverse groups within Turkey are similar to where mainstream white America was on the subject in the 1950s: "Aren't we all Americans? Aren't we all Turks?" Turks are coming around very slowly, like we did, to the idea of "Yes, but....there is nothing wrong with celebrating our varied heritages." There are a couple things that totally impressed me about Ataturk. He excelled at all martial and diplomatic strategic activity. He had the forgiveness and detachment one sees within great leaders like Mandela toward his former foes. For example, when given the opportunity to walk on a Greek Flag to celebrate a Turkish victory, he refused. His neighboring examples of how to run a country were Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, and Mussolini's Italy, yet when other party members wanted him to put his party above the nation, he refused. He was superb at cutting losses at what wasn't working, such as the Turkish Arabic-style alphabet and Ottoman-era Turkish language infused with many foreign words, simplifying the whole language with a Latin alphabet. He made government secular within a land that was almost 100% Muslim. Rather than be cowed by worries of offending religious sensibilities, he pursued Western-style education and knowledge for his people. He constantly communicated to them his belief that they could make their own destiny. To this day, Turks carry that feeling within them. Mango's book is considered the definitive source for English-language speakers. It's a little scary how completely Mango dominates the reading list for English-language readers on all things Turkish. He have been enormously productive and his output is extensive.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    When I was looking for a biography of Ataturk, I wasn't able to decide between this volume and a similar one by Kinoross that predates it, so I decided to read both. My thinking was that this one appeared to do a better job at providing the broader context of what was going on, but was also drier and less likely to get more into the mind of the Turkish leader. But both actually end up sharing similar flaws. Mango's work does a much better job of setting the scene for Ataturk's rise, explaining t When I was looking for a biography of Ataturk, I wasn't able to decide between this volume and a similar one by Kinoross that predates it, so I decided to read both. My thinking was that this one appeared to do a better job at providing the broader context of what was going on, but was also drier and less likely to get more into the mind of the Turkish leader. But both actually end up sharing similar flaws. Mango's work does a much better job of setting the scene for Ataturk's rise, explaining the state of the Ottoman Empire leading up to the First World War and more background for what was to come. But despite this grander initial view (Kinoross just kind of launches into Ataturk) it ends up getting pretty bogged down in some rather uninteresting minutiae around Ataturk's fighting in World War I and then the War for Independence. That's fine, but it feels like it comes at the expense of later, arguably more interesting things such as the cultural effect of largely eliminating religion from the state, shifting the Turkish alphabet, and making the country more women friendly, including taking on the headscarf. Those all get some attention, but really only in the last 100 or so pages of the book. And so you get left with an odd impression where you know a lot about what happened until about 1925 or so, but then the remaining decade of Ataturk's time in power feels almost glossed over. Reading a bit between the lines, the impression given is that Ataturk stopped mattering quite as much as prime minister and got stuck in some weird things (his attempt to show that the root of all language comes from Turkish via people's reaction to the sun is amusing and sad), but it still feels like more attention to the cultural changes would have been welcome. One other possible explanation for this short shrift is that the reforms made by Ataturk actually weren't as revolutionary as one thinks and that instead were only part of a process that had begun before and after his time in office. That's sort of implied by Mango at the beginning and the end, but never really explained in much detail. In some ways, the most interesting value of this work is its comparison to Kinoross' book. Mango's chronology almost directly follows Kinoross and frequently points out stories presented in the earlier volume as fact and pokes a hole in it. That makes for an interesting dialogue and probably says something a smart History PhD would say about how those closer to actual events can get twisted in their presentation (my understanding is that Kinoross presented as fact a lot of what Ataturk said), but not necessarily worth reading two volumes of 500+ pages to see that play out. All that said, I do think that between Kinoross and Mango, the latter is the better work. It challenges more of the myth or legend around Ataturk, does a better job scene-setting, and lacks some of the more annoying great man of history touches that Kinoross presents (things like Ataturk was clairvoyant about the future course of history, for example).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tolga Turan

    As a Turkish reader who spent most of teenage and early adulthood in Turkey, I have been in a medium of differing opinions about Ataturk. In Turkey, some worships him and gives him a status nothing less than prophethood. Others fail to give him the least status of a patriot who loved his country and people. There are also those who dare, albeit covertly, to call him anti- islam infidel. Therefore I wanted to read an unbiased biography of the man who saved a country a nation from the depths of po As a Turkish reader who spent most of teenage and early adulthood in Turkey, I have been in a medium of differing opinions about Ataturk. In Turkey, some worships him and gives him a status nothing less than prophethood. Others fail to give him the least status of a patriot who loved his country and people. There are also those who dare, albeit covertly, to call him anti- islam infidel. Therefore I wanted to read an unbiased biography of the man who saved a country a nation from the depths of political, military, economic misery, without any associated agenda or ideology of the writer. Andrew Mango's Ataturk Biography starts from the second half of 19th century and gives a political picture of the world Ataturk was born into. He describes Ataturk's teenage aspirations to be a lieutenant, his going to military school, graduation, proving himself in several war fronts, going through the hell of 1st World War, his uniting of national resistance in Anatolia, his success then building a nation from scratch. In these endeavors Ataturk did not only fight with allied armies, he had to fight with Ottoman officials who wanted to cooperate with the invaders, he had to fight with rebel fighters spurring all around the country, he had to fight with famine, diseases, he had to compete with other nationalist resistance fighters who had similar aspirations and who were aiming for the top spot as him. Mustafa Kemal also wanted to be the single-man but the difference with him and Enver Pasha or Kazim Karabekir was that his motivation was not selfish. He knew he was the only person who can do this. There are many things I love about this book. But the long story short if you want to read an objective well- researched biography of human Ataturk that gives not only his successes and great qualities but also his failures his limitations, this book is for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jimgoodall

    Ataturk was a competent commander, a shrewd politician, a statesman of supreme realism. But above all he was a man of the Enlightenment. And the Enlightenment was not made by saints. That last paragraph on page 528 sums it up beautifully. An excellent book, well researched and extremely fair.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ghena

    Amazing insight on the life of a man who change a country.... or created it depends how you see it!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Houssam El okda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Impressions on Ataturk: I write this as I read the book Ataturk, by Andrew Mango. This book is a massive 800 page historical account by a non-Turkish, well respected historian, who is knowledgable in both the Turkish language and culture. It is both finely detailed and exciting. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was by all means a patriot. He had immense love for his country and a clear vision for its progress. He never sought financial gain from his position, and corruption was not a factor in his tenure. My Impressions on Ataturk: I write this as I read the book Ataturk, by Andrew Mango. This book is a massive 800 page historical account by a non-Turkish, well respected historian, who is knowledgable in both the Turkish language and culture. It is both finely detailed and exciting. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was by all means a patriot. He had immense love for his country and a clear vision for its progress. He never sought financial gain from his position, and corruption was not a factor in his tenure. My opinion on Ataturk, a man of great intellect, wit and charisma, is often split. His character intrigues me deeply. He is both loving and brute. Diplomatic and authoritarian. He was a progressive but also an imitator. His vision sought to move turkey from the shackles of the Ottoman Empire into the deep embrace of the western world. His economic reforms sought to glorify anything Turkish, yet his social reforms were, by and large, adapted from the west. He enforced western dress, hats, and even letters (ataturk changed the Turkish language from the Arabic script to the Latin alphabet in "three months") He adapted the western philosophy on religion, which is to remove it entirely from issues of the state. His attack on religion was not limited to Islam: by the end of Ataturk's time, Christianity had all but disappeared from Turkish society. Under Ataturk, education of men and especially women, was promoted and improved. Despite illiteracy rates being fairly high in the end of his reign, the establishments he founded were core to building a Turkish generation that was more educated. There, he must be respected, for any advancement that Turkey currently lives is due to this astounding educational reform. (Something that his bitter Islamist opponents would begrudgingly admit). His reforms in women's rights are also very commendable. Those who think that he is an enemy of Islam, have to both understand Ataturk, and understand Islam in a deeper manner. His vision of science, progression, along with many of the injustices he stopped, is as crucial to Islam as prayer and chastity. I discredit the claims that he was an enemy of Islam, for I truly believe that Ataturk's movements were not personal. Yes, certainly he opposed religion and was in no way religious himself, but the reason his voice was heard in the first place was the failure of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The ottoman empire's despotic rule was in no way in line with the teachings of Islam. If there is any indication to that, it is the alarming rates of illiteracy in the country at that time. Illiteracy does not rhyme with the teachings of the Quran, whose first unveiled word was 'Read'. Had the Ottoman Empire truly sought to promote piety, illiteracy would have been nearly nonexistent, as it had been in the Islamic Golden Age. If a mere human like Ataturk can remove religion from a body of strong, educated believers, then this religion must be quite weak; and Islam is anything but weak. Here I find pitfalls in his character: in many of his decisions, Ataturk contradicted himself. He claims to have no religion; he wishes "all religions at the bottom of the sea." Instead he wants his people to "learn the principles of democracy, dictates of truth, and the teachings of science." Yet his actions contradicted most of his claims. The first, democracy, is his greatest contradiction. There was no democracy in Ataturk's reign. He was an unrivalled dictator who did not tolerate opposition. He executed and imprisoned his opponents, and he manipulated the rule of law and the constitution to further his own power. His attempts at democratizing the country were a joke. He founded his own opposition party (and his aides wrote its platform), then dissolved it when it "created a threat to law and order." For someone who was well versed in western culture (to the extent that he hand picked German pianists to establish music conservatories in turkey), Ataturk completely disregarded western implementations of democracy. This was something that the country reeled from continuously after his passing. The second, educating the people on the "dictates of truth", was also not less hypocritical than the previous point. Ataturk did everything in his power to fester one truth: his. He established his own (or closely supportive) news organizations, and closed off any who opposed him. He personally reviewed and banned books that didn't align with his visions for Turkey. His government wrote its own history books, and preserved its own versions of the truth, while discarding the rest. In this sense, there was nothing of his governance that is truthful. The third, on science and education, I addressed in the beginning of this note. My most important remark on Ataturk, is his unwavering ego. He was, by all means, an arrogant man, who gave no thought to the possibility of him being mistaken. He dutifully silenced all those who opposed him and ostracized those who did not fit within his Turkish vision, namely the Kurds and the Ottoman sympathizers. He built statues and portraits of himself, using public money. He extended his pride to his followers for generations in his address to the youth of turkey, part of his famous six day speech. This speech, in which he explains his actions and outlines his vision, is his version of the truth; and has been drilled into every Turkish school since. To put it in the authors words, "he thus shaped his own legend, just as he established his own cult by the erection of his statues." If you think about the amount of people that were forced and frightened into silence, the information we might have about Ataturk's reign could be very different from what is available now. Reading this book, it is unsurprising the unwavering passionate support that many Turkish people have for Ataturk right now. His pictures adorn walls, wallets and Facebook profile pictures. Yet I think that the Turkish people owe it to their own ideals of science and modernity to take a much deeper look at their leader, and understand that there are many sides to this charismatic man. Ataturk said that "he is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government." I think that He is also a weak ruler who needs nationalism to uphold his government. For every injustice and every despot in this world has proliferated under the guise of either religion or nationalism. The world is headed towards a new ideal: love, compassion, and humility; a future for all races, religions, and cultures. The new leaders of Turkey are not taking hint, and they're using the same single-minded, egoistic tactics that Ataturk used. They are silencing opposition, seeking an authoritarian rule, and ostracizing minorities. The new generations of Turkey have to realize that the New Turkey cannot be built on the corpses of your brothers, it must be built together, with mutual compassion and respect. The single most unified sentiment in all religions and cultures, is love. Find your common ground, find love, and you shall prosper! Islam teaches humility, the vilest word to Allah is 'Ana' or 'I'. Let go of you ego, admit your short comings, and seek help from each other, respect each other's views, only then will Turkey move into its new era as a great nation of faith, science, and modernity.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nedret Efe

    As the founder of the Turkish Republic and the chief architect of the cultural revolution and westernisation of Turkish society that began in the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk will be remembered for his incredible contribution to history. His passion for the participation in a universalist, humanist “one civilisation” (reflected in his famous expression “Yurtta sulh, cihanda sulh”, or “Peace at home, peace in the world”, the basis of the foreign policy of the early Turkish Republic) underpinned h As the founder of the Turkish Republic and the chief architect of the cultural revolution and westernisation of Turkish society that began in the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk will be remembered for his incredible contribution to history. His passion for the participation in a universalist, humanist “one civilisation” (reflected in his famous expression “Yurtta sulh, cihanda sulh”, or “Peace at home, peace in the world”, the basis of the foreign policy of the early Turkish Republic) underpinned his effort to transform Turkey from a destitute, illiterate, decrepit, and impoverished remnant of the Ottoman Empire into an independent and sovereign nation capable of taking part in modern European civilisation. He was a competent commander, a shrewd politician, a statesman of supreme realism, and a champion of the ideas of the Enlightenment. Mango gives a nuanced insight into both the ideas and principles that inspired Atatürk’s vision for the Turkish state, and the subsequent events of history, and his character as a rationalist, humanist, and lover of rakı (“What a lovely drink this is; it makes one want to be a poet” after his first tasting during his final year of the War College - his humorous appreciation for the drink has a nostalgic charm that many Turks will understand).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Irka

    Nie wiem, jak z polskim tłumaczeniem, ale wersja angielska to mnóstwo zmarnowanego potencjału (zwłaszcza Galipoli), a szkoda. ---------------- "I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap." Things I've learnt about Ataturk from this book: - he mixed with his birth date - he had a lover (not sure if it is correct word, but it seems so from reading) - he wa Nie wiem, jak z polskim tłumaczeniem, ale wersja angielska to mnóstwo zmarnowanego potencjału (zwłaszcza Galipoli), a szkoda. ---------------- "I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap." Things I've learnt about Ataturk from this book: - he mixed with his birth date - he had a lover (not sure if it is correct word, but it seems so from reading) - he was a supporter of feminism - he introduced latin alphabet in Turkey - he adopted 3 girls and a boy (I've knew only about one girl who was a military jet pilot) - he was divorced - he had no opponents - there were 2 attempts on his life - he was a hero of Galipoli (though this part I consider as only mentioned in this book) It's not a bad book, but surely it could have been better.... Galipoli part especially.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mustafa Moiz

    A very interesting book. It was very easy to read and it didn’t feel like 500 pages. This is probably the definitive biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and, more importantly, it portrays the conditions in the late Ottoman Empire and early modern Turkey very well. It manages to show the conditions into which Atatürk and his contemporaries grew up in and how their present reality affected them and their decisions. It really made me feel as though these were not just historical figures who died a l A very interesting book. It was very easy to read and it didn’t feel like 500 pages. This is probably the definitive biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and, more importantly, it portrays the conditions in the late Ottoman Empire and early modern Turkey very well. It manages to show the conditions into which Atatürk and his contemporaries grew up in and how their present reality affected them and their decisions. It really made me feel as though these were not just historical figures who died a long time ago but real human beings making real choices. It was neither a hagiography nor a vilification of Atatürk but simply told the truth, no matter what that is. As a Pakistani, I feel every Pakistani should read this book because of the strong parallels between the founding of Turkey and Pakistan.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    Good overall. An English-background author who was born in Turkey and who reads and speaks the language makes for a solid historic background for this book Mango doesn't whitewash Ataturk, but doesn't throw him under any buses, either. That said, while Ataturk himself was not involved with the Armenian genocide, tho some battles he led in the War for Independence certainly affected Armenians, as did his Turkization of place names, surnames, etc., it did happen. And Mango never really talks about i Good overall. An English-background author who was born in Turkey and who reads and speaks the language makes for a solid historic background for this book Mango doesn't whitewash Ataturk, but doesn't throw him under any buses, either. That said, while Ataturk himself was not involved with the Armenian genocide, tho some battles he led in the War for Independence certainly affected Armenians, as did his Turkization of place names, surnames, etc., it did happen. And Mango never really talks about it. That guaranteed the loss of a star.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ahmet

    Took me some time to finish, but surely worth it! Inevitably, it has its flaws here and there, particularly some not very solid conclusions on the Armenian events of 1915(and before, on which he-understandibly- barely touched on). Overall though, as far as the purpose and main subject of the biography and the technique are concerned, it really is definitive. It is, before all, an immensely meticulous work, doing justice to the term biography. The sources used by the author and persons whom he spo Took me some time to finish, but surely worth it! Inevitably, it has its flaws here and there, particularly some not very solid conclusions on the Armenian events of 1915(and before, on which he-understandibly- barely touched on). Overall though, as far as the purpose and main subject of the biography and the technique are concerned, it really is definitive. It is, before all, an immensely meticulous work, doing justice to the term biography. The sources used by the author and persons whom he spoke with go to show this. Contrary to the more-often-preferred method, notes have been added to it as an appendix, which can be tiring, especially when you realize there are quite a few tidbits stored there so you often want to check them out-not to mention tons of references in my native Turkish- but I come to appreciate it as I'm not big on half-text-half-footnote pages. Brief biographical notes in the appendices should be quite useful for the foreign reader too. "Benim nâciz vücudum elbet bir gün toprak olacaktır; ancak Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ilelebet pâyidar kalacaktır."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    A Great book on a very controversial leader. As the 21st century began one has to remember Ataturk's is the only country still loyal to ideals of its leader and founder. Iran, Iraq, Egypt and even Tunis have changed drastically and are not anything like what their leaders in early 20th century envisioned. Turkey survived and is ready to take on its place under the sun...It has already taken its place. I am adding my review in Persian as well: http://adadpay.com/2010/07/07/111-158/ در دنیای پس از ج A Great book on a very controversial leader. As the 21st century began one has to remember Ataturk's is the only country still loyal to ideals of its leader and founder. Iran, Iraq, Egypt and even Tunis have changed drastically and are not anything like what their leaders in early 20th century envisioned. Turkey survived and is ready to take on its place under the sun...It has already taken its place. I am adding my review in Persian as well: http://adadpay.com/2010/07/07/111-158/ در دنیای پس از جنگ جهانی اول خاورمیانه به تحت الحمایه ها و دو کشور مستقل تقسیم می شد: ایران و ترکیه. در هر دو دو نظامی که تا پس از جنگ اول گمنام مانده بودند به قدرت رسیدند. حکومتهای هر دو در پی تاسیس نظمی نوین و مدرن بود و در این راه به اروپا و غرب را الگوی خود قرار دادند. یکی رضاخان میرپنج بود و دیگر کمال مصطفی پاشا. هر دو نام خانوادگی و صدور شناسنامه را در کشورهایشان اجباری کردند و نامهای جدیدی برگزیدند. رضاخان خود را پهلوی نامید و مصطفی کمال پاشا نام آتاتورک را برگزید. رضاخان رضاشاه شد و موسس سلسله ای جدید شد که پس از خودش سی و هفت سال بیشتر دوام نیاورد. آتاتورک موسس و رئیس جمهور جمهوری ترکیه شد. علیرغم کودتاها و اغتشاشات فراوان آن جمهوری و نظام حکومتی هنوز پابرجاست. هر دو رویای کشورهایی مستقل را در سر داشتند که سرشکستگی دخالت بیگانگان را تحمل نکنند. یکی بعنوان رئیس جمهور درگذشت و با احترامات شایسته مقامش به خاک سپرده شد. در حالیکه خودش و جانشینانش کشورش را از آتش جنگ جهانی دوم دور نگه داشتند. اما آن دیگری اشغال دوباره کشورش را دید و با خواری به تبعید در جزیره ای دور افتاده رفت. چرا یکی موفق شد و دیگری شکست خورد؟ جالب است که گرچه بسیاری از مورخین ایرانی و وقایعنگاران دوران پهلوی اول به تاثیر آتاتورک بر رضاخان اشاره می کنند، اما هنوز کتاب خوبی درباره زندگی آتاتورک به فارسی منتشر نشده است. آندرو مانگو خلاء چنین کتابی را به زبان انگلیسی جبران کرده است. کتاب او بر اساس اسناد ترکی و متفقین درباره آتاتورک نوشته شده است و از تولد تا مرگ او را در بر می گیرد. کتاب شامل فصلهای کاملی درباره تاسیس جمهوری ترکیه و جنگهای استقلال آن است . در این فصلها خواننده اطلاعات مفیدی درباره آتاتورک و چگونگی شکل گیری طرز تفکر او و ایده هایش درباره جمهوری کسب می کند. اگر خواننده بدنبال پیدا کردن تفاوتهای کمال مصطفی و رضاخان است، این تفاوتها از همان ابتداء آشکارند. کمال مصطفی پاشا علاوه بر تحصیل در مدرسه نظام به اروپا سفر کرده بود و به زبان آلمانی مسلط بود. گرچه نمی توان او را عضو فعالی در حلقه های روشنفکران ملی گرای ترک قبل از جنگ جهانی اول دانست، ولی او در جریان تحولات و بحثهای فکری جامعه قرار داشت. نامه های بجای مانده از او شاهد ذهن تحلیلگر و در عین حال جاه طلب اوست. از سوی دیگر مطالعات کمال مصطفی وسیع و گسترده بود و شامل آثار کلاسیک عصر روشنگری اروپا می شد. او درباره قانون برداشتی واقع بینانه داشت و کتابهای مونتسکیو را بدقت مطالعه کرده بود. شیوه فرماندهی او محکم ولی بدون جاروجنجال و فحاشیهای رضاخانی بود. و در پایان کمال مصطفی می دانست اگر قانونی وضع می شود شخص او حداقل در ظاهر باید مطیع آن بنظر برسد. درست است که آتاتورک یک مستبد مردسالار سنتی بود و بهیچوجه شیوه حکومتش شباهتی به یک دمکراسی تکثرگرا نداشت. اما ساز و کارهای حکومتی همواره از مجاری قانونی طی می شدند. او برخلاف رضاخان دلیلی نمی دید که پنهانی به کسب ثروت بپردازد و یا بکوشد شخصا در هر کاری مداخله کند. این شیوه رفتار باعث تثبیت قواعد حکومتی در جامعه ترکیه و ایجاد یک نوع فضای شفاف شد که در نهایت اطمینان مردم و پذیرش برخی از اصلاحات او را در بر داشت. درست است که هم رضاخان و هم کمال مصطفی هر دو مستبد بودند، اما یکی می دانست که در دنیای پس از مرگش تنها پذیرش عمومی می تواند دستاوردهایش را دائمی کند. اما دیگری به ایران پس از خودش فکر نکرده بود. یکی هنوز مورد احترام است و از دیگری حتی سنگ قبری به جای نمانده.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    Ataturk was one of the great statesman of the 20th century -- unquestionably the man who made modern Turkey. With accomplishments like that, it's no surprise he was an interesting person. Not necessarily a nice person, but a striking one. This biography concentrates mostly on his political life. The political maneuvering is front and center, with military aspects secondary. There are a few revealing details about Ataturk's personal life. We hear a bit about his unhappy marriage -- he had his wife Ataturk was one of the great statesman of the 20th century -- unquestionably the man who made modern Turkey. With accomplishments like that, it's no surprise he was an interesting person. Not necessarily a nice person, but a striking one. This biography concentrates mostly on his political life. The political maneuvering is front and center, with military aspects secondary. There are a few revealing details about Ataturk's personal life. We hear a bit about his unhappy marriage -- he had his wife sent away when she started complaining about his habits -- and just a bit about his flirtations with other women. But mostly Mango author is interested in chronicling his career as statesman. The big thing I hadn't understood is that Ataturk was basically a nobody in 1918; he was a moderately successful general in an obscure staff position, with no troops at his command and no following. And he managed by intrigue and bluff and adroit maneuver to create a new government around himself, and then to acquire absolute power. I had never realized this, but it took a long time before his government in Ankara was recognized internationally -- he had to win the war with Greece and then cajole and intimidate the occupation armies out of Turkey before the western powers recognized him, and not the Sultan, as the head of state. A comparison Mango doesn't explicitly draw, but that I can't help thinking of, is his contemporary, Stalin. Both of them were relatively obscure leaders who were successful in the war, rose to power as part of a coalition, and then gradually forced out his rivals and every other independent figure in the government, leaving only devoted supporters. Like Stalin, he pushed through radical national reform in the name of progress and modernity. And like Stalin, he had a cult of personality in his lifetime -- complete with statues, monuments, a national anthem about him personally, and culminating in calling himself "father of the Turks." The difference of course is that Ataturk was more or less responsible and decent with the power he acquired. Ataturk's political opponents were mostly just forced out of politics or into European exile -- hardly anybody was arrested, let alone killed. And his reforms were largely successful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ameer Kana'an

    I'm certainly surprised that I bought this book from a Turkish library, where in it Ataturk is politely called a "dictator". My first urge to buy it was to understand the transformation from a Caliphate to this kind of Laïcismic secularism. The biggest faction -geographically- and maybe the most powerful that is fighting in Syria, my country, is ISIS, a faction that is molded on the principle, and maybe the only principle "to revive the caliphate". Not to mention other Caliphist movements, like I'm certainly surprised that I bought this book from a Turkish library, where in it Ataturk is politely called a "dictator". My first urge to buy it was to understand the transformation from a Caliphate to this kind of Laïcismic secularism. The biggest faction -geographically- and maybe the most powerful that is fighting in Syria, my country, is ISIS, a faction that is molded on the principle, and maybe the only principle "to revive the caliphate". Not to mention other Caliphist movements, like Hizb-ul-Tahrir, which is more common among civil propaganda. I was surprised that one of my very secular friends-or at least I thought so-, turned to them in perusing the caliphate. Its effect is like a hypnosis that I(we) need to understand. The second of course, is the curiosity triggered by Arab nationalist propaganda, that is to say, an Anti-Kemalist propaganda, which generated lots of myths and prejudices that are dated to Ataturk's times. These were gone with the wind after the first month living in Turkey. Yet I still feel, we should work more on the social level, bringing the two societies(Syrian and Turkish) for a clearer view of one another, for that I'm thinking to lecture about it in my university where I study, a Turkish university with lots of Syrian students. Next time I pass by Ankara, I'll make sure to stop by Ataturk's mausoleum and pay my respects.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Keith W

    This is the best political biography I've ever read. It started slowly, with the author spending several pages analyzing differing views on the date of Ataturk's birth and the identity of the house in which he was born. That part was so slow that I almost gave up and put the book down but I'm glad I didn't. Mango has written what will surely stand as the definitive life of Mustapha Kemal. His research was clearly exhaustive, as reflected in the voluminous and detailed endnotes. (Mango has writte This is the best political biography I've ever read. It started slowly, with the author spending several pages analyzing differing views on the date of Ataturk's birth and the identity of the house in which he was born. That part was so slow that I almost gave up and put the book down but I'm glad I didn't. Mango has written what will surely stand as the definitive life of Mustapha Kemal. His research was clearly exhaustive, as reflected in the voluminous and detailed endnotes. (Mango has written previous books on Turkey and undoubtedly understands the language, which would have been crucial in his research.) Another positive attribute was the clarity and precision of the writing. In most books I read, I find words out of place or poorly chosen and sometimes entire sentences I find better ways to write. In "Ataturk," however, I never found any of that. This is undoubtedly one of the best-written non-fiction books I've ever read. Kudos to the author (and his editors). Despite its heft (537 pp.) and density, I got to the point where I had difficulty putting this book down and, God willing, I may well read again at some point.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ngoc Nam

    There are a lot of interesting coincidences between Atatürk and Ho Chi Minh's life. Both chose the date 19th May for their birthday. Both died right after the anniversary of their own republic. Both were great nationalists with tremendous vision for their nation. Both believed in education and in a peaceful, fruitful future of Western civilization inside an Eastern society. None of them had a normal personal life with a wife, sons, daughters... though they deserved much more than that. Vietnames There are a lot of interesting coincidences between Atatürk and Ho Chi Minh's life. Both chose the date 19th May for their birthday. Both died right after the anniversary of their own republic. Both were great nationalists with tremendous vision for their nation. Both believed in education and in a peaceful, fruitful future of Western civilization inside an Eastern society. None of them had a normal personal life with a wife, sons, daughters... though they deserved much more than that. Vietnamese readers may find many more coincidences as they read this book. Ho Chi Minh was born 9 years after Atatürk. He was living in Paris while Atatürk was leading the Turkish War of Independence against many countries, among which France was an important one. As an active journalist in Paris then, Ho Chi Minh probably known about Atatürk and was inspired by the Turkish War of Independence. Unfortunately I didn't find any information about Ho Chi Minh thought on Atatürk and Turkey.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This is the definitive English Language biography of the man who created the Modern Turkey as a state and as a cultural entity. Ataturk rallied the Turkish Army when the diplomats of Western European decided to give away large sections of his country to Greece and seized the Territory that constitutes the modern state of today. Ataturk was also a ferocious modernizer. He banned the traditional Turkish alphabet and imposed the Latin Alphabet on his country. He also required all Turkish men to wear This is the definitive English Language biography of the man who created the Modern Turkey as a state and as a cultural entity. Ataturk rallied the Turkish Army when the diplomats of Western European decided to give away large sections of his country to Greece and seized the Territory that constitutes the modern state of today. Ataturk was also a ferocious modernizer. He banned the traditional Turkish alphabet and imposed the Latin Alphabet on his country. He also required all Turkish men to wear hats with brims so that they would unable to wear them while performing their daily ritual prayers to Allah. Somehow it has all stuck. However slowly, Turkey is slowly advancing towards membership in the EU and in Europe as a culture entity, it is certainly moving backwards. This is a great book about a great man.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Who am I kidding, I am never going to get back to this book to finish it. Probably doing Ataturk and Mango a great injustice but I am sick of looking at it on my list.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv Agarwal

    Very well written. The author takes trouble to keep his views unbiased. Attaturk was a very divisive figure but never the less founder of modern Turkey

  30. 5 out of 5

    Grof J. Kešetović

    I'm actually surprised that this book was allowed to be translated into Turkish. Firstly, this book sheds a very interesting light on the life and work of Mustafa Kemal; from the beginnings in the military to the great national leader. However, the author uses the opportunity to add his own criticism on Mustafa Kemal which I found more interesting than the biography. The ones who are not aware of the personality cult that was instated with the Democrat Party in the 1950s would find that it's a c I'm actually surprised that this book was allowed to be translated into Turkish. Firstly, this book sheds a very interesting light on the life and work of Mustafa Kemal; from the beginnings in the military to the great national leader. However, the author uses the opportunity to add his own criticism on Mustafa Kemal which I found more interesting than the biography. The ones who are not aware of the personality cult that was instated with the Democrat Party in the 1950s would find that it's a criminal act to insult the memory of the first President of the Turkish Republic (instated in 1951 I think). Therefore, this book adds criticism on the overly lavish lifestyle Atatürk led and was ultimately his demise. That's why this book was translated in 2016 into Turkish (17 years after the original's publication). However, the reforms themselves had their positive and negative downsides. An interesting fact would be that Mustafa Kemal banned the sharia law right for men to divorce from their women with their own personal consent in 1925, what most don't know is that he used the same sharia law to get divorced just 6 months earlier. The crackdown of the opposition he instated himself was a forgotten part of the early Republic. People like Rauf Orbay of Kazım Karabekir, early companions of Atatürk, were staunch opponents of his policies and were banned from politics for being in the opposition party that was founded on Atatürk's desire to create a political plurality in the country. Karabekir's memoirs were not published until 1939 and the newspaper "Tan" that published them was stoned by angry Atatürk youth clubs that disapproved any negative remarks on their Republic's founder. It reflected the things that were to come and it's still present in today's Turkey. As a last remark on the book, I'd criticise the author for not using more primary sources for the book. Sadly I also understand him because many of the files and documents are still of limits to the general public and will not be available in the near future (We are talking about possible negative writing against Mustafa Kemal, which would be a criminal offense to do).

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