'Magnificent . . . Important and hugely readable' William Dalrymple, Financial Times
'A wildly ambitious and entertainingly lurid history' James Barr, The Times
'Highly readable . . . Baer's fine book gives a panoramic and thought-provoking account of over half a millennium of Ottoman and - it now goes without saying - European history' Guardian
'A winning portrait of seven centuries of empire, teeming with life and colour, human interest and oddity, cruelty and oppression mixed with pleasure, benevolence and great artistic beauty' Sunday Times
'A superb, gripping and refreshing new history - finely written and filled with fascinating characters and analysis - that places the dynasty where it belongs: at the centre of European history' Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs and Jerusalem
'A book as sweeping, colorful, and rich in extraordinary characters as the empire which it describes' Tom Holland
The Ottoman Empire has long been depicted as the Islamic-Asian antithesis of the Christian-European West. But the reality was starkly different: the Ottomans' multiethnic, multilingual, and multireligious domain reached deep into Europe's heart. In their breadth and versatility, the Ottoman rulers saw themselves as the new Romans.
Recounting the Ottomans' remarkable rise from a frontier principality to a world empire, Marc David Baer traces their debts to their Turkish, Mongolian, Islamic and Byzantine heritage; how they used both religious toleration and conversion to integrate conquered peoples; and how, in the nineteenth century, they embraced exclusivity, leading to ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the dynasty's demise after the First World War. Upending Western concepts of the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration, the Reformation, this account challenges our understandings of sexuality, orientalism and genocide.
Radically retelling their remarkable story, The Ottomans is a magisterial portrait of a dynastic power, and the first to truly capture its cross-fertilisation between East and West.
The Ottoman Empire was surprisingly tolerant and modern, according to this sweeping chronicle. Historian Baer (Honored by the Glory of Islam) recaps the Empire's rise at its 17th-century peak it ruled most of the Middle East and southeastern Europe and long decline within a larger European context, emphasizing its entwinement with European geopolitics and culture and its seething intellectual and religious currents, which paralleled the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. He also highlights its innovative multiculturalism and social engineering. The Ottomans' Muslim-dominated society incorporated Christians, Jews, and ethnic minorities respectfully, Baer notes, until a 20th-century turn to Turkish ethno-nationalism precipitated the Armenian genocide, and its early system of converting Christian slave children to Islam and training them for the military and governmental posts produced a meritocratic army and administration. Baer's elegantly written narrative is full of bloody state building a new sultan was expected to murder his brothers to keep them from challenging him for the throne along with intriguing, counterintuitive takes on Ottoman culture. He claims, for instance, that the sultan's fabled harem was an epicenter of female political empowerment, and that sexual relations between men and boys were de rigueur among elites. This immersive study makes the Ottomans seem less exotic but more fascinating.