Middle East Policy (Volume 30, Issue 1, 1 March 2023)
Marc David Baer, The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs (Basic Books, 2021), 560 pages, 35 USD (hardcover).
Even a book of this considerable size cannot do justice to nearly 1,000 years of history. The result is what the author no doubt intended, an overview of one of the greatest and frequently misunderstood empires in history.
Baer begins with the accession of Osman, the eponymous founder of the empire, in 1288. By then, Turks and Mongols had established one empire or khanate after another from Central Asia down to the lands of the Middle East, but the Ottoman Empire proved to have more staying power than any of them.
Baer has written a book that captures the immense color and drama of early Ottoman history, but it sags when it comes to the fate of Ottoman Christians from the late 19th century to the early 1920s. Almost all books on this subject do. When it comes to late Ottoman history, amore “controversial” book, but a better one,would have been the result had the author challenged an ingrained mainstream narrative based on “facts” that are not always facts, on “histories” that have a closer resemblance to propaganda, and on the avoidance of sources that get in the way of what partisan writers want their readers to believe.
To read the rest of the book review, please click: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mepo.12676
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