Friday, 13 January 2017

The Ottoman Empire by Hourly History – Book Review

This is a book about the Ottoman Empire as part of the concise Hourly History series. This book starts with the establishment of the empire by the Turkic tribes led by Osman which eventually overthrows the Byzantine Empire and takes over the city of Constantinople (present day Istabanbul) and establishes the Ottoman Empire; a realm which at its height expanded from Belgrade to Baghdad.

The book started with the establishment of the empire, the eventual expansion to the Balkans and Arabia, how the empire embraced pluralism and the influence exerted by the Jews and the Armenians (till the genocide), broad description of various critical battles during the course of the Ottoman Empire such as the Battle of Lepanto (against the Holy League) and the Crimean war against Russia. It eventually went on describing the role of the Empire in the First World War; the defeat which led to the dissolution of the Empire leading to the Treaty of Sevres subsequently overwritten by the Treaty of Lausanne thereby ending the Ottoman Empire and forming the secular Turkish republic.

The book was effective in bringing about the lifestyle and the system of guilds, the role of religion in the society and also touched upon some of the important events throughout the course of the existence of the empire. However, I was surprised to see certain misses, such as the sanjak system which was effective in controlling such vast diverse territory or about the ruthless janissary battalions or as to how the Ottomans expanded to Greece and how the Sultan actually made efforts to incorporate Greece as a part of Turkey by actually shifting base to Greece and I might have perhaps liked it if there was at least a mention of conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque after the Ottoman takeover. However, not all these could have been covered in an hour but certain compromises could have been done to the highly elaborate description on guilds and instead, one of these could have been incorporated.

On the whole, the book satisfied the objective of passing on a lot of information in an hour and I guess it has served its purpose. I would award the book a rating of six on ten.

Rating - 6/10

Have a nice day,

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