Born as a military frontier principality at the turn of the Fourteenth century, Turkey developed into the dominant force in Anatolia and the Balkans, growing to become the most powerful Islamic state after 1517 when it incorporated the old Arab lands. This distinctively Eastern culture, with all its detail and intricacies, is explored here by a pre-eminent scholar of Turkish history. He gives a striking picture of the prominence of religion and warfare in everyday life as well as the traditions of statecraft, administration, social values, financial and land policies. The definitive account, this is an indispensable companion to anyone with an interest in Islam, Turkey and the Balkans.
Among the analysed texts are autobiographies by writers, journalists, soldiers and politicians, including classics like Halide Edip Adıvar and Şevket Süreyya Aydemir, but also texts by authors virtually unknown to Western readers, such as Ahmed Emin Yalman.
While the official Turkish republican discourse went towards a dismissal of the imperial past, autobiographical narratives offer a more balanced picture. From the earliest memories and personal origins of the authors, to the conflict and violence that overshadowed private lives in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, this book aims at showing examples of how the authors painted what one of them called "images of a past world."