Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Book: Marc David Baer's "The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, And Caliphs"

I decided to switch back to non-fiction to explore a gaping hole in my history education: The Ottoman Empire.  Marc David Baer's "The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars, and Caliphs" takes a chronological journey through the rise, fall, and transformation of the Ottoman Empire.  The chronology is broken only when the author dives deeper into some aspect of Ottoman culture. 

Baer has a nice writing style that takes the potentially stodgy history and livens it up and makes it a rather easy read.  It creates a compelling narrative without leaving out detail.  He tries to sweep away the prejudices we see in western historical studies.

Reading about the struggles between secular and religious forces I couldn't stop thinking of what we are experiencing today.  Turkey hasn't learned from its history and neither has ours.

As I read this book I thought about the Egyption history I read in 2014.  Toby Wilkinson's "The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt" was not nearly as good as "The Ottomans".  In a way this book was what I expected the Egypt book to be.  Of course, the scope of Egyptian history is many times that of the Ottomans so making a comparison may be disingenuous.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  It filled a hole I had in my history education in an interesting and highly readable way.  I read this with our future travels in mind.  Turkey may be one of our next destinations and being able to know the history of what we are seeing can only be a benefit.

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