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The Ottomans: Dissolving Images

By Andrew Wheatcroft

The Ottomans were a dominant world power for four and a half centuries, but how well do we know of their successes in the West?

Andrew Wheatcroft teases out those qualities which were uniquely Ottoman. Not Turkish, not Middle Eastern, nor even a shadowy echo of the west. For the Ottomans, born warriors from the steppes of Central Asia, became a unique urban culture, the successors of Rome in a political sense but quite unlike any culture before or since.

Yet it is wrong to talk of the Ottomans in the past tense, for their legacy is alive in the Middle East and in parts of Europe to this day. And no country has to live in so ambivalent a relationship to its Ottoman past as Turkey itself. Today, the pervasive influence of the ‘Ottoman style’ is still present throughout the Middle East. Four hundred years of a culture cannot be extinguished at the stroke of a pen or some notional redrawing of boundaries on the map.

This book focuses on the inner life of the Ottoman world as seen through western eyes. It asks how it was that the ‘Ottoman way’ flourished and survived over so many centuries, even as the imperial power crumbled.

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