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The Ottoman Empire has exerted a long, strong pull on Western minds and hearts. For over six hundred years the Empire swelled and declined; rising from a dusty fiefdom in the foothills of Anatolia to a power which ruled over the Danube and the Euphrates with the richest court in Europe. But its decline was prodigious, protracted, and total. Lords of the Horizons charts the Ottoman Empire's swirling history; dramatic, detailed and alive - a journey, and a world all in one.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099994008
ISBN-10: 0099994003
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 24mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 4-Mar-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This 'history' of the Ottoman Empire looks at a polyglot empire of 36 nations without a common language; Islamic in religion but Byzantine in its ceremony; Persian in its dignity; Arabic in its calligraphy; and governed by a parvenu class of Balkan renegades. Part history, part travel book, part romantic vision of a lost world, this book, in which anecdote, speculation and chronology become inextricably mixed, has its own peculiar charm. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A delightfully picaresque history, brimming with memorable anecdotes and outrageous personalities. English travel writer Goodwin (A Cup of Tea: Travels Through China and India in Search of Tea, 1991) guides us on a highly impressionistic journey. We begin in the foothills of Turkey, where the Ottoman Turks revered the horse and reveled in making war. (They also helped to destroy the Christian crusaders of the 14th century.) The Ottomans were Sunni Muslims, relatively tolerant of religious diversity. In 1453, under Sultan Mehmet, they seized Constantinople, making it their capital. Goodwin writes brilliantly about the siege of that Byzantine city, describing its complex defensive fortifications and how Mehmet breached them with a revolutionary weapon, the cannon. Under Suleyman the Magnificent, Ottoman power reached its zenith. Suleyman's army overran Belgrade in 1521 and later assaulted Vienna. Finally, the European powers united to stop the "infidel" Ottoman onslaught. In 1571, the Ottomans suffered their first major defeat at the Battle of Lepanto. Nevertheless, they consolidated their power in the Balkans, Egypt, Persia, Russia, and all over Central Asia. Goodwin argues convincingly that the key to Ottoman success, besides an obvious skill at war, was their open-mindedness regarding cultures and institutions: The Ottoman umbrella made room for Spanish Jews, Orthodox Greeks, Venetian merchants, Albanian tribesmen, Arab bedouins, and others. With the coming of the industrial revolution in Europe, however, the Ottomans fell behind. Palace intrigues, factional rivalries, military disloyalty, and nationalist rebellions in Greece and Egypt combined to sap the empire of its strength. Yet it survived, miraculously, into the 20th century, like some crazy old aunt locked in the attic. Throughout, Goodwin relishes the exotic, the bizarre, the picturesque. In explaining the decline of Ottoman military virtue, he cites Sultan Ibrahim, who overindulged in drink and the harem, where he "rode his girls like horses through rooms lined in fur." An elegantly written, thoroughly entertaining work of popular history. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Jason Goodwin

Jason Godwin is a historian, journalist and travel writer. He has travelled extensively in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and India; his first book, The Gunpowder Gardens: Travels through India and China in search of Tea, was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Awards, 1991, and his second, On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul, was the winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, 1993. He is also the author of several crime novels, and in 2007 was awarded the Edgar Award for Best Novel for The Janissary Tree.

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