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Eighty years have passed since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the Turkish Republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and set it on the path of modernisation. He was determined that his country should be accepted as a member of the family of civilised nations.
Today Turkey is a rapidly developing country, an emergent market and a medium-sized regional power with the second strongest army in NATO. It is an open country which attracts millions of tourists, thousands of foreign businessmen and hundreds of researchers. They enjoy Turkish hospitality and experience its rich landscape and history, but many find it hard to form an overall picture of the country.
In this sequel to his acclaimed biography of Ataturk, Andrew Mango provides such an overall portrait, tracing the republic's development since the death of its founder and bringing to life the Turkish people and their vibrant society. The Turks Today interprets the latest academic research for a broader audience, making this highly readable book the authoritative work on modern Turkey.
Istanbul-born, British-based Mango (Atat rk) offers an insightful, sympathetic portrait of recent Turkish history. The first third of the book discusses the growth of the Turkish state after Atat rk's death in 1938, with a fitful spread of democracy, clashes with Greece and the departure of Istanbul's Greek community. Economic and social conflict from 1960 to 1980 was subsequently "contained" by a military-driven constitution and rapprochement with Europe. A battle over the logo of the mayoralty of Ankara, the capital, illustrates the recent negotiations between Islamists and secularists. Istanbul, whose "infrastructure does not match its size," is growing as a regional base. In impoverished, traditionalist eastern Turkey, "the Third World has not been banished," though Mango argues that integration with the state if not assimilation is the best hope for the Kurdish minority. Turkey today, Mango suggests, resembles the late modernizing countries of southern Europe in many ways. He sees potential for a fully democratic and secular state, but warns that it takes time to "implant Western institutions in non-Western soil." Though this volume lacks some of the bite and immediacy of a journalist's book like Stephen Kinzer's Crescent and Star, it emerges as a more thorough introduction to a less-known but increasingly vital country.