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According to the Ottoman chronicles, the first sultan, Osman, had a dream in which a tree emerged fully formed from his navel "and its shade compassed the world"-symbolizing the vast empire he and his descendants were destined to forge. His vision was soon realized: At its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasu According to the Ottoman chronicles, the first sultan, Osman, had a dream in which a tree emerged fully formed from his navel "and its shade compassed the world"-symbolizing the vast empire he and his descendants were destined to forge. His vision was soon realized: At its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasus. The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and most influential empires in world history. For centuries, Europe watched with fear as the Ottomans steadily advanced their rule across the Balkans. Yet travelers and merchants were irresistibly drawn toward Ottoman lands by their fascination with the Orient and the lure of profit. Although it survived for over six centuries, the history of the Ottoman Empire is too often colored by the memory of its bloody final throes. In this magisterial work Caroline Finkel lucidly recounts the epic story of the Ottoman Empire from its origins in the thirteenth century through its destruction on the battlefields of World War I.


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According to the Ottoman chronicles, the first sultan, Osman, had a dream in which a tree emerged fully formed from his navel "and its shade compassed the world"-symbolizing the vast empire he and his descendants were destined to forge. His vision was soon realized: At its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasu According to the Ottoman chronicles, the first sultan, Osman, had a dream in which a tree emerged fully formed from his navel "and its shade compassed the world"-symbolizing the vast empire he and his descendants were destined to forge. His vision was soon realized: At its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasus. The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and most influential empires in world history. For centuries, Europe watched with fear as the Ottomans steadily advanced their rule across the Balkans. Yet travelers and merchants were irresistibly drawn toward Ottoman lands by their fascination with the Orient and the lure of profit. Although it survived for over six centuries, the history of the Ottoman Empire is too often colored by the memory of its bloody final throes. In this magisterial work Caroline Finkel lucidly recounts the epic story of the Ottoman Empire from its origins in the thirteenth century through its destruction on the battlefields of World War I.

30 review for Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Finkel gives a monumental account of the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire. I will never again feel that they were an obscure or exotic group. Before I read this book the Ottomans seemed so mysterious and distant. I had the pleasure of visiting Bulgaria in December 2014 and I was struck by the notion that for 500 years the Ottomans ruled Bulgaria and the Balkan peninsula. There are still Muslims in the Balkans and their influence is felt in the architecture, art, food and other cultural and po Finkel gives a monumental account of the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire. I will never again feel that they were an obscure or exotic group. Before I read this book the Ottomans seemed so mysterious and distant. I had the pleasure of visiting Bulgaria in December 2014 and I was struck by the notion that for 500 years the Ottomans ruled Bulgaria and the Balkan peninsula. There are still Muslims in the Balkans and their influence is felt in the architecture, art, food and other cultural and political realms. The Ottoman influence inevitably has left lasting influences because it ruled for so long and was so involved in the region (as opposed to the Arabs who had more autonomy in their regions while still being under the umbrella of the Empire, as Finkel describes). Unfortunately, just like with English history, the majority of the Ottoman Sultans have the same names so while I read the book I understood what was happening in the moment but I do not have the retention skills to remember which Mehmed did what. Finkel jumps right in with Osman I, the founder of the Empire and his legendary dream that led him to militantly make a name and a place in history for his followers. From the start the Ottomans were making a bid for Constantinople with the hopes of recreating a Muslim and Ottoman version of Byzantium. It reached for its realms and ultimately succeeded. At its height the Ottoman Empire stretched from the doors of Iran to the doors of Vienna, going through North Africa, Asia Minor, the Caucasus range and up through South Eastern Europe. Finkel demonstrates how this huge amount of land and the many many different cultures and ethnic groups that comprise it ultimately led to the Ottoman downfall. Just like with the Romans, that many people with geographic and cultural, language and religious differences is too much to maintain. The book is exhausting because it is almost constant battle in several fronts for 700 years worth of time. Fighting the Persians was very different from fighting the Hapsburgs which was different than fighting the Russians, and so on. Finkel discusses all of this war and the politics and religious aspects in minute detail and it is very interesting. However, I would have loved to hear more about what life under the Ottomans was like. She does touch on clothing, but in light of how some of the Sultans made sumptuary laws for non-Muslims. She mentions the harems and the Chief Black Eunuch but does not elaborate on what life was really like for the women or how the Black Eunuch came about, rather than some other slave eunuch. I felt like Finkel tickled my mind with cultural aspects of the Empire while dousing me in details of the expanding and shrinking of the Empire. Because of this parts of the book seemed to drag and feel repetitive even though it was new wars, new Sultans, etc. Finkel loses some perspective toward the end of the narrative when she discusses the tragedy of the Armenians and the formation of the Republic of Turkey and its leader Mustafa Kemel Attaturk. It felt like she was in a love affair defending the Ottomans against modern Turkey. I think she lacked empathy in her discussion of the Armenians, that she was trying to be too distant or nuanced. She also is heavily critical against Kemel while begrudgingly admitting good things he did. I do not know much about Turkey or the "Armenian Question" as she calls it, so maybe they are accurate depictions, but I feel that when dealing with things that are still an issue today some empathy is called for. All in all "Osman's Dream" is filled with drama and information and I am really glad I read it. I recommend it to anyone interested in the Ottomans, it is written for lay people and thankfully there is a Sultan list and a chronology in the appendices.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    As dry as the sands of Arabia... As long as the Silk Road... As heavy as the walls of Constantinople... This is....Osman's Dream. I knew Turkey was supposed to be sleep-inducing, but I thought that was because of the triptophan, not the history (oh he's clever!). Okay, that's being unfair for comedic (?) effect. This book has every single name and date you could want in a comprehensive history of the Ottoman Empire, which is good, particularly since there aren't many modern, detailed studies like th As dry as the sands of Arabia... As long as the Silk Road... As heavy as the walls of Constantinople... This is....Osman's Dream. I knew Turkey was supposed to be sleep-inducing, but I thought that was because of the triptophan, not the history (oh he's clever!). Okay, that's being unfair for comedic (?) effect. This book has every single name and date you could want in a comprehensive history of the Ottoman Empire, which is good, particularly since there aren't many modern, detailed studies like this one. But for this book, excelling at thoroughness means failing at narrative. The question of why and how is answered very infrequently in contrast to the whos whens and wheres which are covered in extreme detail. Not that there isn't value in the whos whens and wheres, obviously those are large components of any historical study, but their worth is diminished without explaining the why and the how. A list of names, dates and places is nothing but an annal; an explanation of why those names, dates and places is important and how they influenced the other names, dates and places is a history. To summarize, this is not a great book, but it will most likely appear in the bibliography of great books not yet written.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire, is a blow-by-blow account of the rise and fall of one of the world's most interesting Empires. The Ottoman's started as a tribal group under the leadership of Osman, carving out a space for themselves on the Western coast of Anatolia under the shadow of the waning Roman Empire (in Constantinople). The state grew rapidly, taking territory from fellow Turkic tribes in Anatolia, Greek city states along the coast of Turkey and the Balkans, and Slavic Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire, is a blow-by-blow account of the rise and fall of one of the world's most interesting Empires. The Ottoman's started as a tribal group under the leadership of Osman, carving out a space for themselves on the Western coast of Anatolia under the shadow of the waning Roman Empire (in Constantinople). The state grew rapidly, taking territory from fellow Turkic tribes in Anatolia, Greek city states along the coast of Turkey and the Balkans, and Slavic states like Serbia and Bulgaria. These early years saw the Ottoman's shift from a regional player to a world power, and put the fear of God, literally, in most European powers. The Ottoman's also began to takes on the auspices of a religious Empire. They promoted Sunni Islam, and went on to conquer the main route to Mecca for pilgrim's from Asia and India. They invaded the powerful Mamluk Sultanate centered in Egypt, taking their territory in Syria, Palestine, Arabia and Egypt. They moved into the rest of North Africa, creating autonomous states in Algeria and Tunisia which they used as springboards for naval competition with other sea powers, including Spain, France, Venice and The Knights of St. John in Malta. The holy sites is Mecca and Medina soon fell under Ottoman control, as well as Yemen and much of Arabia. The Ottoman's competed with Portugal in India and Africa, and tried to maintain secure shipping routes and tariff controls over the spice, slave and pilgrim trades in the region. They also clashed with the Hapsburgs in Hungary, at times controlling most of the nation, made subjects of the Crimean Tartar's in modern Ukraine, and fought with Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy/Russia in the Steppes. There biggest grudge match was with the Safavid's in Iran, who espoused a Shia Islam, and competed with the Ottoman's over control of modern Iraq, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran, and dashed Ottoman dreams of conquering Iran. Even so, the Ottoman's were a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state. They treated Christian's more leniently than most Islamic states at the time (and indeed, most Christian states as well, as Europe became embroiled in Inquisitions, schisms, and violence). The Ottoman Empire became home to many of Europe's Jews, expelled from Spain, England, France, Germany and so on, they found a place to settle in the hinterlands of the Empire, and became key money lenders, bankers and treasurers for the Ottoman government. They faced internal strife from a variety of sources. First, an instituted system of fratricide on succession of a new Sultan meant that the first few months/years of a succession meant strife, civil war, and usually ended with a number of dead brothers and faction leaders. The Janissary corps, groups of soldiers taken from Christian areas as boy-levees, and raised as Ottoman's in law, military tactics and soldiery, had the Empire by the noose for a long time. Wars often ended in defeat because the Janissaries would commit desertion, go back to Istanbul, and riot, execute Ministers, and generally cause trouble. This usually ended with the execution of mob violence against the officers of the corps by wild mobs, or regime change. Finkel's book is a fantastic look at the Ottoman Empire, from beginning to end. The chapters generally follow the reign of a Sultan (if he was great, such as Suleyman the Magnificent), or a multitude of Sultan's if they were not (the captive Sultans, either by Harem, or controlled by factions such as the Grandees). Ottoman history is a dizzying account of massive growth, sustained existence, and slow crumbling as foreign powers chipped away at the Empire using nationalism, religious fanaticism, or outright Imperialism to take territory. Finkel does a fabulous job looking at history that can be outright confusing to some western readers. Their are a half dozen Mehmet's, Murad's, a few Bayezid's, a couple of Mustafa's, and so on. There are umpteenth Pasha's of various origins, who rebel, fall in and out of favour, control provinces, lead armies and fight for greater power and control. On each succession (at least, during the beginning of the Empire), brothers fight for the right to rule, and many are strangled (the customary execution tactic) and buried in bulging family graveyards. The Ottoman Empire is a fascinating topic. This is a state that rose to prominence by destroying the last outposts of the Roman Empire, defeated (or in some cases just barely survived) the Mongol hordes of Tamerlane, Jalyarid, and so on. It fought grudge matches in Iran, on the steppes of Russia, and in the hinterlands of Hungary. It ruled territory that was fractious, riven with religious, ethnic and political tensions, and it did so for centuries. This was a state that owned Bosnia and Serbia, Palestine and the Arab lands, Syria, the Armenian heartlands and so on, all at the same time. It was a multi-ethic, multi-religious entity that is unseen of today, and very unique in terms of European history for its longevity. The multi-ethnic Hapsburgs eclipsed the Ottomans in the Balkans, only to see that powder-keg blow up in their face, and bring down their dynasty after WWI. The British Empire barely held on to Pakistan for 50 years. Turkey itself was never balkanized, and remains a state to this day. Finkel has done a wonderful job with this history. Although as some readers have mentioned, this book can be a bit of a slog due to names unfamiliar to Western readers, and the rapid, blow-by-blow pace it takes, it is nonetheless a rewarding experience. The Ottoman's are an Empire who, in most readers minds, will be synonymous with sickness and decline. The story of their history, however, is one of perseverance, adaptability, and for many centuries, complete and total success. Even the rump state of Turkey beat back army after army in the 1920's under Attaturk, and kept the Italians, Greeks and Brits from divvying it up into colonies. Truly, this is a fascinating, all encompassing history, and not to be missed for those looking for a comprehensive history of the Ottoman Empire.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alia Salleh

    It took me some time to reach the end of this rather dry narrative of Ottoman history. Then again, it is the story of 600 years in 554 pages; one difficult, perhaps ambitious feat. And the fact that I understood most of it is a cause to thank her - it is readable without prior knowledge of Ottoman history. Starting at the very beginning, from Osman I of when the Turcomen are gaining power in the region to the fall of the empire, and thus the Caliphate, the book tells of the rise and fall of Sult It took me some time to reach the end of this rather dry narrative of Ottoman history. Then again, it is the story of 600 years in 554 pages; one difficult, perhaps ambitious feat. And the fact that I understood most of it is a cause to thank her - it is readable without prior knowledge of Ottoman history. Starting at the very beginning, from Osman I of when the Turcomen are gaining power in the region to the fall of the empire, and thus the Caliphate, the book tells of the rise and fall of Sultans and vezirs as the empire progresses, with the peak seemingly during the rule of Suleyman the Magnificient. Yet other than the exchange of powers; the expansion and rebellion suppression efforts; and the many treaties which often follow wars, I don't really leave the book knowing much about the 6 centuries. There were a few peeks of the empire's policy and administration undertakings but they do not give a proper glimpse of how the Ottoman ruled - how the society was. The earlier sultans were also described vaguely in terms of their character, perhaps due to lack of documentation. Tax indeed got some major mentions, which confused me at times by how the concept of jizya imposed on the non-Muslim subjects was not explained properly in balance to the exemption from military conscript and zakat paid by the Muslims - jizya was not mentioned in its proper term, referred instead as poll-tax and zakat was not mentioned at all. The author's insistence of using English terms for Ottoman jargons was also evident in the youth-levy system, easier understood by me as devşirme. Resulting in the same confusion in my part as the system faced evolving changes, with the line blurred as the term becomes interchangeable with other recruitment efforts. It can be argued as a matter of familiarity, and of calling rose by a different name. I kinda love how my vocabulary was immensely increased with some cool words - constantly needing the dictionary by my side. And I so need to mention this. There were of course matters which, looking from the Muslim perspective, peeves me (I restrained from being biased and thus this very short list): one would be the analysis of Mehmed II's motives in conquering Costantinople as firstly economic, then spiritual in relation to the Prophet Muhammad's tradition. That is just too shallow an analysis to digest. Jumping to the end, the next being the changes brought by Mustafa Kemal, where he introduces Swiss-based civil code which supposedly elevated women's position in society, praised by the authoras such: "It is for this that the women of today's Turkey express their lasting gratitude to Mustafa Kemal." Taking their right for education and work and politics due to their choice of donning the headscarf is hardly elevating. Littered among those two examples were other instances where administration policies are viewed with an undertone of western cynicism, giving the impression that everything is centred around enriching the state above anything else. Yet such perceived cynicism is fairly moderate - I have read snippets of more suspiciously distorted narratives of the time. The author provided a relatively fair presentation of the Ottoman history, despite the lack of insight into the Muslim psychology, which I find understandable. I do think the supposed self-professed Caliph title is something the subjects and vassals do want, and not merely to justify the empire's legitimacy - the Muslims at that time do want a leader (which does not rob the locals of their autonomy). All in all the Ottomans times were far from ideal and it is important to illustrate that exact fact - she did a good job in this matter. In the end the fall seems inevitable with enemies from all sides, and a crisis of leadership at the centre of the empire: a string of well-intending yet weak Caliph, internal betrayal flamed by external interests that can hardly be sustainable with all the ever-changing policy forged to solve the complex disintegration of the empire. It is sad.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Farebrother

    A very informative book on another subject I had been meaning to read up on for years. Divided into chapters that encompass different stages in the life of the Ottoman state from its founding in 1300 to its death in WWI (and beyond to Ataturk's 700-plus page speech read over 36 hours in 1927), the author sets out in incredible detail the lives of the key players and the military, political, economic, social, cultural and other events that simultaneously made and were made by one of the world's gr A very informative book on another subject I had been meaning to read up on for years. Divided into chapters that encompass different stages in the life of the Ottoman state from its founding in 1300 to its death in WWI (and beyond to Ataturk's 700-plus page speech read over 36 hours in 1927), the author sets out in incredible detail the lives of the key players and the military, political, economic, social, cultural and other events that simultaneously made and were made by one of the world's great powers. The book covers all the peculiarly Ottoman institutions and their history and roles, from the elite Janjičar infantry and the Derviš orders, while remaining extremely readable. As such, it is a remarkable achievement, obviously written by someone very familiar with and endeared to all things Turkish. But in its enthusiasm it also inadvertently reveals another, unexpectedly disturbing facet of historiography. I was taken aback by this sentence at the end of the first chapter: "Such epics fuelled the emotions of the Christian Serbian population of the region in the terrible wars of the late twentieth century: they saw an opportunity to remove from their midst the Muslim population still, even after so many centuries, seen by many as alien". This readiness to impute to ordinary men and women living today the pseudo-historical rhetoric touted by populist politicians, to cast a whole population into a convenient historiographic mould exposes the superficial nature of historical works. Individuals live their own lives and make their own decisions on their actions. It should be recalled that numerous "historians" in the Balkans sold their services to the various nationalist programmes that destroyed the former Yugoslavia, providing a cryptic legitimacy to what was nothing more than robbery and murder. History is not a game of Risk, and when it clashes with the reality of the present it should always take a back seat; as Nelson Mandela once said, “It is not the kings and generals that make history, but the masses of the people, the workers, the peasants, the doctors, the clergy”.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    More than 550 densely filled pages, followed by numerous annexes: Finkel tells the story of almost 700 years of Ottoman Empire in one sitting, with great attention to detail and adjusting lots of classical Western and Turkish opinions. I have no doubt that this is a very well founded book, the result of thorough research and a lot of reading. But ... this book is almost unreadable by the accumulation of detail: a neverending succession of sultans, great visors, internal and external wars, treatie More than 550 densely filled pages, followed by numerous annexes: Finkel tells the story of almost 700 years of Ottoman Empire in one sitting, with great attention to detail and adjusting lots of classical Western and Turkish opinions. I have no doubt that this is a very well founded book, the result of thorough research and a lot of reading. But ... this book is almost unreadable by the accumulation of detail: a neverending succession of sultans, great visors, internal and external wars, treaties and armistices. Finkel has made this rich history into a chronicle, rather than a work of synthesis. The details on military and political evolutions suppress almost all socio-economic and cultural aspects, and that is a pity!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eadweard

    I read this mostly for the first 150 years, the wars with the russians during the 18th century, and the dismembering of the empire. Overall, it's a good book, all the different regions of the empire are given attention, I also enjoyed reading about the Ottoman-Safavid relations and later on, the arabs. Warning: it's really, really dry, even for a history book. I read this mostly for the first 150 years, the wars with the russians during the 18th century, and the dismembering of the empire. Overall, it's a good book, all the different regions of the empire are given attention, I also enjoyed reading about the Ottoman-Safavid relations and later on, the arabs. Warning: it's really, really dry, even for a history book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniil

    I love Turkey, it's history fascinates me. This book is one of the best works on Ottoman empire ever written in English, so I'm going to read it to the very end. Inside there's many interesting details and illustrations. I love Turkey, it's history fascinates me. This book is one of the best works on Ottoman empire ever written in English, so I'm going to read it to the very end. Inside there's many interesting details and illustrations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    I recently started obsessing over the Byzantines and became curious about the empire that eventually defeated and replaced them. Like the Byzantines themselves, the Ottomans don't get a lot of love when it comes to popular, accessible history texts for the layman. It's a shame since they were every bit as impressive and cultured as their contemporaries, and the repercussions of their rule continue to be felt today in the Middle East. This book is a good overview for anyone who wants to fill in t I recently started obsessing over the Byzantines and became curious about the empire that eventually defeated and replaced them. Like the Byzantines themselves, the Ottomans don't get a lot of love when it comes to popular, accessible history texts for the layman. It's a shame since they were every bit as impressive and cultured as their contemporaries, and the repercussions of their rule continue to be felt today in the Middle East. This book is a good overview for anyone who wants to fill in the gap between the fall of Constantinople and Lawrence of Arabia. Finkel's exploration of the remarkable ethnic and religious diversity present in Ottoman territory made a deep impression as I read. While the level of toleration varied depending on the sultan and the century, non-Muslims in Ottoman territory often fared better than non-Christians in western kingdoms. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, many of them chose to live under the protection of Bayezid II, who warmly received them (and condemned Ferdinand's persecution). The empire wasn't some utopia of modern religious freedom of course--non-Muslims could not hold any political office of influence, and were subject to a special tax--but it illustrates just how complex history, and judging it, can be. Mehmed the Conqueror. Suleyman the Magnificent. The battles at Kosovo Polje, Vienna, Lepanto, or Belgrade. The bravery, and treachery, of the Janissary corps. The massive 27 foot-long Basilica gun that hammered the Theodosian land walls of Constantinople, or the sumptuous tulip gardens of the 18th century palace grounds. These are the characters and adventures you'll find here, as rich and exciting as those of any other civilization from humanity's past.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Omar Taufik

    Reading this book was a journey I really enjoyed for 5 weeks. With a very interesting preface the author prepares us for the long and exciting journey starting before 13th century Anatolia with the Turkmen tribe settlement then witnessing the birth of the Ottoman state and the long six century reign of the 36 Ottoman sultans ending 1922 with the abolishment of the sultanate and establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The author even takes us further to end the journey in the year 1927 wi Reading this book was a journey I really enjoyed for 5 weeks. With a very interesting preface the author prepares us for the long and exciting journey starting before 13th century Anatolia with the Turkmen tribe settlement then witnessing the birth of the Ottoman state and the long six century reign of the 36 Ottoman sultans ending 1922 with the abolishment of the sultanate and establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The author even takes us further to end the journey in the year 1927 with the famous Mustafa Kemal speech " NUTUK " as a document ending the Ottoman empire history as a memory of the past. This brilliant book is very rich in interesting details where the author discusses various related subjects from time to time which I really enjoyed with it's great insight. I do not hesitate here to give the book a straight 5/5 rating as a high recommendation reading to interested readers in the Ottoman empire. For beginners in the subject, I suggest they read a more brief overview book on the subject before reading this book in order to gain a general idea and avoid easily getting lost in the great amount of historical details and information. As for myself, I will definatly need to revisit this great book and collect the numerous useful details and information included in its approximate 700 pages. I would like to really thank the author Caroline Finkel for her passionate objective work.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Desertblues

    (not yet finished with the book) I am trying to understand the part of the Ottoman empire which this day I know best. I have the impression that the Turkish people are torn between the East and the West. Their sense of history is different than the history as we know in the West. I personally heard a Turk recounting the fate of the Armenians; the genocide ( Armenians, but also the general point of view) in the early 20th century. While hearing this and standing among the ruins of the medieval Ani (not yet finished with the book) I am trying to understand the part of the Ottoman empire which this day I know best. I have the impression that the Turkish people are torn between the East and the West. Their sense of history is different than the history as we know in the West. I personally heard a Turk recounting the fate of the Armenians; the genocide ( Armenians, but also the general point of view) in the early 20th century. While hearing this and standing among the ruins of the medieval Ani, the important Armenian city of those days, I saw and sensed the gap (literal while I was standing at the chasm which seperate Armenia from Turkey today). I am getting a better understanding of the events that led to this tragedy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cathal Kenneally

    It took longer than I expected; suffice to say, it covers a lot of detail in 550 odd pages of text for an empire that lasted longer than the Russian empire. How do you cover 6 centuries of history, even if it’s one country or empire? Still for anyone who wishes to study the Ottoman Empire this is a valuable resource. Comes with a list of ruling sultans through the ages and a significant timeline. Definitely one to keep

  13. 4 out of 5

    theokaraman

    A massive narrative history of the Ottoman Empire. From the legendary founder of the Osmanli dynasty, an insignificant Turk warlord from Bursa, Anatolia, to a mighty Empire that stretched from Algeria to Iraq and from Yemen to the gates of Vienna. The initial advantages of the Ottomans that made them invincible were their relative tolerance to different cultures and religions, embrace of technological advancements (the first armies in Europe that made extensive use of firearms and cannons) and a A massive narrative history of the Ottoman Empire. From the legendary founder of the Osmanli dynasty, an insignificant Turk warlord from Bursa, Anatolia, to a mighty Empire that stretched from Algeria to Iraq and from Yemen to the gates of Vienna. The initial advantages of the Ottomans that made them invincible were their relative tolerance to different cultures and religions, embrace of technological advancements (the first armies in Europe that made extensive use of firearms and cannons) and a great enthusiasm, a young vigor mixed with a religious fervor. These were also the main reasons behind the Empires downfall; technological stagnation, greater oppresion of the non-muslim population and a general indifference and a hedonistic attitude at courts. The author loves the Ottoman Empire and it shows, while she doesnt like Mustafa Kemal much, who denounced the Ottoman heritage, embraced nationalism and founded the Turkish Republic. However, the narrative style is the main problem of this book. Literally, the whole book is a gigantic story full of endless names of various pashas, grand vezirs, sultan wifes etc, that in the end you feel overwhelmed. There are no separate parts about society, art, army, bureaucracy in the different time periods of the Ottoman Empire, parallel to the historical events. One huge story , that as pages goes by becomes difficult to keep up. I think that the book would be easier to read, if better organized. Now its a good reference book about the events that shaped the Ottoman history, but I feel that I missed a lot of stuff about how exactly the Ottoman society and state was structured.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mihai

    Following the classical style of writing history, this dry but powerful compendium of Ottoman History is a perfect read for those interested in the subject. Even if the time span is all to big to be arranged in just a book, the author manages to do exactly that. And for such a feat, even if the volume of information needed is huge, that same information is not only about dates and dynasties, but also about the inner workings of such an empire, his political structure, military might and diplomat Following the classical style of writing history, this dry but powerful compendium of Ottoman History is a perfect read for those interested in the subject. Even if the time span is all to big to be arranged in just a book, the author manages to do exactly that. And for such a feat, even if the volume of information needed is huge, that same information is not only about dates and dynasties, but also about the inner workings of such an empire, his political structure, military might and diplomatic endeavors. On the other hand, the book manages also to be a case study in the rise and fall of a great power, as its dissolution is also greatly studied. Combining those two, the reader is left tired, as a great tome usually does, but also more knowledgeable, sympathetic and informed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ambar

    Caroline Finkel's Osman's Dream is exactly the kind of book I wanted on the Ottomans, seeing as it is replete with facts and who did what and when. But the narrative runs dry fairly often, and explanations regarding why the actors behaved the way they did can be found, but relatively few and far between. It's still a great book, very informative, but slightly tedious, especially with the constant stream of new names it keeps injecting that can be a bit hard to keep track of. I will give Finkel full Caroline Finkel's Osman's Dream is exactly the kind of book I wanted on the Ottomans, seeing as it is replete with facts and who did what and when. But the narrative runs dry fairly often, and explanations regarding why the actors behaved the way they did can be found, but relatively few and far between. It's still a great book, very informative, but slightly tedious, especially with the constant stream of new names it keeps injecting that can be a bit hard to keep track of. I will give Finkel full marks for her keen insight in defending the Ottomans from unfair criticisms that have always painted them as evil in the western imagination while at the same time having the wherewithal to criticize ottoman and islamic society, and its treatment of non muslims, "heretics", women and slaves.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ali Hassan

    “According to the Ottoman chronicles the first sultan, Osman, had a dream in which a tree emerged fully formed from his navel ‘and its shade encompassed the world’ - symbolizing the vast empire he and his descendants were destined to forge. His vision was soon realized - at its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasus. A multitude of religions flourished within its frontiers. P.S. I didn't like much because of too many characters and u “According to the Ottoman chronicles the first sultan, Osman, had a dream in which a tree emerged fully formed from his navel ‘and its shade encompassed the world’ - symbolizing the vast empire he and his descendants were destined to forge. His vision was soon realized - at its height, the Ottoman realm extended from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from North Africa to the Caucasus. A multitude of religions flourished within its frontiers. P.S. I didn't like much because of too many characters and undue lingering. However, it is a detailed work on Ottoman history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ekul

    Waste of time. far too much is spent on court intrigue and the boring lives of sultans at the expense of broader developments in the Ottoman Empire.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kartik

    Who could have imagined that an errant Central Asian tribe would go on to change the course of history? Osman's Dream follows the course of the Ottoman Dynasty, as it grew from a local landowning tribe in Anatolia to the leaders of a state that went on to conquer what reminded of the Byzantine Empire and push into the Balkans. The dynasty ruled over a base of highly diverse subjects, from Protestant Hungarians, to Armenians, to Anatolian Turks, to Bedouins, and Sephardic Jews. The various changes Who could have imagined that an errant Central Asian tribe would go on to change the course of history? Osman's Dream follows the course of the Ottoman Dynasty, as it grew from a local landowning tribe in Anatolia to the leaders of a state that went on to conquer what reminded of the Byzantine Empire and push into the Balkans. The dynasty ruled over a base of highly diverse subjects, from Protestant Hungarians, to Armenians, to Anatolian Turks, to Bedouins, and Sephardic Jews. The various changes in the fortunes of both the dynasty and the empire (the two were not always in sync) and the various factors that shaped these changes are examined at length in this book, and its overall scope is rather large. It begins with the origins of the dynasty, which ultimately lie in Central Asian migration to Anatolia and in local power struggles between competing Turkic tribes, and goes on to chronicle Ottoman expansion in Anatolia and the Balkans, the fall of Constantinople, the defeat of the Mamluks, and ends with Mustafa Kemal's establishment of the modern Turkish republic and the banishing of the dynasty. This book wasn't too dry to read, and maintained a balanced tone (except in the final chapter). It made for an interesting read and was able to impress on me the scope and variety of the factors, events, and actions of people that made the Ottoman state what it was.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Avery

    The Ottoman Empire was a chiefly agrarian state that for the majority of its lifespan was grounded in a respect for tradition and suspicion of innovation shared between its peasantry and elites. For over 150 years after Gutenberg the printing press was illegal in Ottoman realms in order to preserve the traditional craft and art of calligraphic books. (The law was overlooked to allow Christians to print books but they had a hard time of it too.) Their polity resembled the Roman empire and they ha The Ottoman Empire was a chiefly agrarian state that for the majority of its lifespan was grounded in a respect for tradition and suspicion of innovation shared between its peasantry and elites. For over 150 years after Gutenberg the printing press was illegal in Ottoman realms in order to preserve the traditional craft and art of calligraphic books. (The law was overlooked to allow Christians to print books but they had a hard time of it too.) Their polity resembled the Roman empire and they had similar political instability and popular uprisings. Like the Russians, the Ottomans were surprised by Western Europe's development of usury, colonialism, and racism in the eighteenth century, and its increasing tendency to break treaties when convenient. In the nineteenth century some sultans tried to adopt European style order, specifically in the army and Navy, but all of this was rolled back by Sultan Abdülhamid's preference for returning to Islam as a source of national unity. Even as the Young Turks tried to push the sultan out of power in 1908, ordinary peasants were rioting on the street calling for bans on photography and movie theaters. The author includes discussions of the Ottoman approach to minority populations throughout. Rather than uniting all ethnic groups within their nationalism the Ottomans saw the maintenance of non-Muslim populations as key to the upkeep of their empire. Non-Muslims could be taxed, forcibly moved across the empire, expelled, or targeted for conversion depending on what the political situation called for. Even Muslim minorities were seen as possible targets by the Turk majority. This had long-standing implications still visible in Turkey today. This is a fairly difficult and encyclopedic overview of Ottoman history. It focuses on military history and palace intrigue. Don't expect the author to hold your hand through the many ornate twists and turns. It's generally a good book, but I noticed that the references to Arabic manuscripts and other difficult Ottoman primary sources generally lack contextual value and are offered simply because it's cool to have a primary source witness. If you see something that seems extraneous to the narrative check the footnote and you'll almost certainly see a Turkish manuscript there.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lain

    This is an informative tome on the Ottoman Empire. It does a great job to not only to describe, but also to analyze foreign and domestic political events and trends, throughout 600 years of Ottoman expansion and contraction. It spans from the meager Ottoman beginnings in Bursa, their settlement across the straits onto european soil following the 1354 earthquake in Gallipoli, to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. In rapid succession we witness the conquest of Anatolia, Greece, the Balkans, H This is an informative tome on the Ottoman Empire. It does a great job to not only to describe, but also to analyze foreign and domestic political events and trends, throughout 600 years of Ottoman expansion and contraction. It spans from the meager Ottoman beginnings in Bursa, their settlement across the straits onto european soil following the 1354 earthquake in Gallipoli, to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. In rapid succession we witness the conquest of Anatolia, Greece, the Balkans, Hungary, the Romanian principalities, all of the Levant and Egypt in 1516–1517, Mesopotamia and North Africa. We follow the conflicts between Venice, Genoa and the Turks, as the Italian states seek to exploit the unravelling Byzantine Empire and counter the Turkish threat to maintain and expand their trading privileges, economic interests and territorial concessions in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, finally leading to the decades long and bankrupting struggles for control of Crete. The Ottoman alliance with and protectorate over the Crimean Tatars is a constant source of friction, and is frequently revisited as the unruly Crimeans engage in large scale raiding and slavery in the slavic lands, and independently engage in wars and shifting alliances between Poland, Russia and various Cossack groupings, which increasingly drag the Ottomans into direct conflict with the expanding might of Tsarist Russia. Conflict with shia-sympathetic groups, like their shia turkoman cousins in the east, and various Iranian dynasties, is also a recurring theme. We see the formation of the Janissaries, their initial success in war, and their eventual corrupting and destructive effect on the Ottoman government. The Janissaries developed into an unruly and demoralizing force, which was apt to abandon the front, pillage their own towns and countryside, and demand the execution of their commanders and payment of indemnities, if not to simply to dethrone the sultan in favour of someone more pliable. The officers and leaders of the Janissaries would over time and through successive uprisings and extortionary deals consolidate their personal and hereditary control over state taxing rights and other concessions from the central government. Military discipline became lax, and only a fraction of the standing army which received wages would muster when called to fight. The vested interests of these increasingly rich and powerful military “tax farmers” and their men would lead them to oppose any reforms, centralizing tendencies or attempts by the sultanate to reestablish control of the military. In many cases they would rather march on their own capital to maintain or strengthen their privileges, than to risk life and limb to fight the enemies of the Empire. Their influence would cripple the Ottoman Empire militarily and economically from the early 1700’s. Domestically we read about internal tensions arising between the increasingly sedentary and urbanized sultans and the traditional Turk military warlords who rule and administer the conquered Anatolian provinces. To prevent factionalism and powerful competing cliques from forming, the Ottoman heirs were gradually confined to Constantinople and the comfortable and coddled life within the Harem, from whence they would routinely be fetched and placed upon the throne by rowdy Janissaries. The role and status of Islam changed throughout the history of the Ottoman Empire, and Finkel demonstrates how it was moulded and reshaped to fit the needs of the state. Various religious schools would at different times receive state patronage, or be persecuted, depending on the support or resistance they could muster against the state agenda. Religious artifacts would at critical times be used to great effect to rally support for the Sultan. In the end it was religious and ethnic faultlines that would mortally weaken the Empire. Through wars and diplomatic maneuvers France and Russia secured their right as protector over the catholic and orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Over time this would have insidious results, as the French, Brits and Russians would all interfere in Ottoman internal affairs on behalf of christian minorities. One demand made by the European states were to abolish discriminatory legal practices (like the christian poll-tax, and slave-markets). The Ottoman Empire would attempt to normalize the legal status of both christian and muslim subjects, and to construct an “ottoman” patriotic identity, which was incredibly unpopular among both populations and lead to large uprisings. The christians considered their exemption from military service through poll-tax to be a historical right, while the muslims inversely refused to serve with christians in the army and considered the new taxes imposed upon them to be offensive; traditionally only non-muslims were required to pay taxes. As the Ottoman Empire crumbled and the christian populations violently established their own nation states the project of “ottomanism” was quietly dropped. In a bid to cement their rule in the Middle East and counter the rebellious wahhabist Hejaz, increasing emphasis was placed on a communal muslim identity and the Sultans role as Caliph. But the Empire was already scheduled for partition and retreating on all fronts. The UK had abandoned hope that the Ottoman Empire could be stabilized and used to limit Russian expansion, instead the European states all converged to secure their respective territorial interests. Involvement in ww1 was catastrophic, and it was only the new Kemalist ethos of “Turkish” identity (both the sultanate and the caliphate were abolished) and the popular force that could be mobilized through this idea, that saved Anatolia itself from subjugation. The details and events touched upon are too many to list. This is an incredibly exhaustive book, ripe with analysis of events, key actors and their interests. The amount of information here is almost too much to take in all at once, and it seems to me it would be very much beneficial to have a decent understanding of Ottoman history beforehand, so that you have a preexisting context to pin your newfound knowledge to. Citations and references are plentiful, and it feels like a properly scholarly text throughout. It was a very engaging read when certain events where discussed, but some chapters felt like a brick to the back of the head. Based on personal enjoyment I would rate this a 3/5. But Finkel goes far beyond a simple retelling of events, and for that she deserves credit.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kerveros

    A really good introduction to the Ottoman Empire. I recommend it to everybody interested. If I had to mention the main advantage and the main disadvantage of the book I would summarize as follows: Disadvantage: Finkel fell into the trap of underestimating the consequences of some acts of the late ottoman period. She did not do so by putting them into the context of that period but instead she did it in a way that indirectly reveals her attachment to modern Turkey. This is not obvious to a new reade A really good introduction to the Ottoman Empire. I recommend it to everybody interested. If I had to mention the main advantage and the main disadvantage of the book I would summarize as follows: Disadvantage: Finkel fell into the trap of underestimating the consequences of some acts of the late ottoman period. She did not do so by putting them into the context of that period but instead she did it in a way that indirectly reveals her attachment to modern Turkey. This is not obvious to a new reader but only to serious researchers of the ottoman era. Advantages: With a very very clever way she manages to escape from the traps of orientalism. She is not managing it by exposing its problematic rhetoric but on the contrary she formulates the chapters and the text in such a way that she avoids the orientalist narrative.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Dolan

    I actually started the book much earlier in the summer - and I should add in fairness, read it only in fits and starts whenever I needed a break from other material. The title was intriguing. Yet, I should have realized as soon as I picked up this hefty book and glanced at the tight font on its pages, that it would be a rigorous account of the Ottoman Empire - no lyrical descriptions to be had. It's like a big bowl of nutritious porridge. You rather "know" than "feel" that it is good for you and I actually started the book much earlier in the summer - and I should add in fairness, read it only in fits and starts whenever I needed a break from other material. The title was intriguing. Yet, I should have realized as soon as I picked up this hefty book and glanced at the tight font on its pages, that it would be a rigorous account of the Ottoman Empire - no lyrical descriptions to be had. It's like a big bowl of nutritious porridge. You rather "know" than "feel" that it is good for you and it's chock full of facts (if a bit 'Ottocentric'). It left me feeling full after a few chapters. It wasn't a good choice for summer reading where I would opt for something a bit more "fun" with some interesting analysis or speculation thrown in. Not for "lazy" readers of history like myself - but for the enthusiast of Turkish/Ottoman history, there is plenty of cud to chew.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Fantastically written and all-inclusive. Starting at the end of the Byzantine Empire, through the long Russian Wars, the Crimean War, The Balkan Conflicts, WWI, until the establishment of the modern Turkish Republic, the story unfolds about one of the longest dynasties to ever rule. I usually add for my reads subjects that would help the author's story. In this case, I have none. The author brought in enough supporting material on all portions of the history to allow the reader full familiarity Fantastically written and all-inclusive. Starting at the end of the Byzantine Empire, through the long Russian Wars, the Crimean War, The Balkan Conflicts, WWI, until the establishment of the modern Turkish Republic, the story unfolds about one of the longest dynasties to ever rule. I usually add for my reads subjects that would help the author's story. In this case, I have none. The author brought in enough supporting material on all portions of the history to allow the reader full familiarity and understanding of the topics. Additional material makes for a long read though. The history is very detailed so be ready for a project. I encourage all to try.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Alot of the reviews on here seem to imply this is dry or boring, but I thought this the best history of the Ottoman Empire I have ever read-yes, including Lord Kinross' epic masterpiece. By being purely the narrative of the state itself and only engaging with secondary topics as they become relevant, it avoids that obnoxious pitfall so common to contemporary histories of entire narrative-breaking chapters devoted solely to soft social issues like 'religion' or 'home life' and other things I have Alot of the reviews on here seem to imply this is dry or boring, but I thought this the best history of the Ottoman Empire I have ever read-yes, including Lord Kinross' epic masterpiece. By being purely the narrative of the state itself and only engaging with secondary topics as they become relevant, it avoids that obnoxious pitfall so common to contemporary histories of entire narrative-breaking chapters devoted solely to soft social issues like 'religion' or 'home life' and other things I have always found boring when separated from the greater context. Top of its class.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ming Wei

    What a great book, cannot rate this book high enough, excellent writing, centuries of history included, I quickly got submerged in this book and could not put it down, the Ottoman Empie is so interesting, and this book does the Empire proud. What be an excellent book, for any students of history at University or College, no editorial faults, no spelling faults that I could find, excellent from start to finish, this book as made me want to read further books about the Ottoman Empire, it was so go What a great book, cannot rate this book high enough, excellent writing, centuries of history included, I quickly got submerged in this book and could not put it down, the Ottoman Empie is so interesting, and this book does the Empire proud. What be an excellent book, for any students of history at University or College, no editorial faults, no spelling faults that I could find, excellent from start to finish, this book as made me want to read further books about the Ottoman Empire, it was so good.

  26. 4 out of 5

    stillme

    This was a little too ambitious for me right now.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    An outstanding book. Caroline Finkel’s writing style is absolutely flawless and mesmerizing. A great way to wrap six centuries of the great Ottoman Empire in a short space.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lalu Zam

    Caroline Finkel in my opinion has been success in presenting the history of Ottoman Empire fairly objective through academic point of view. There are two way of approaching the Ottoman narrative she presented in this book. First is taking the narration historically in general to see the big picture analysis of the current situation of the empire in that time period. This is beneficial in the sense of distinguishing both sentiment from the western and islamic world about Ottoman empire in general Caroline Finkel in my opinion has been success in presenting the history of Ottoman Empire fairly objective through academic point of view. There are two way of approaching the Ottoman narrative she presented in this book. First is taking the narration historically in general to see the big picture analysis of the current situation of the empire in that time period. This is beneficial in the sense of distinguishing both sentiment from the western and islamic world about Ottoman empire in general. This is also a very persuasive way of explaining the love-hate relation of Ottoman Empire with western powers at that time and its consequences to the European-Ottoman subjects. The second narration is to take some details of certain key events that happened through the history in order to give more backgrounds, perspectives, and justifications of certain analysis that has been carried out. This is particularly important in anaysing the character of the sultans because everything happened in the empire is from the sultans' edict and his personality is affected by the people around his circles. By using this two approaches, at first you may feel there is no sense of progress regarding the historical events from beginning to end. But in truth, it does. Because although, this "oscillation" happened in all part of the book, Finkel did divide the Ottoman history in each chapter progressing from beginning to end. Each chapter determines period of the ottoman history that is marked by unique general tone of that current period government. For example, the few chapter focusing on the founding of the empire by presenting the conquest of the local rulers in Anatolia by house of Osman. The middle chapters dealing with the firm empire at its peak generally marked by its sultans' hegemony in European borders or in far North Africa and Arabic borders. The latter chapters dealing with the turmoils within and outside of the Empire. From the rebellion of the Pashas (governors), the regime of the Viziers (prime ministers), until the military mutiny and rebellion. Not to mention the great conflict of European powers around 16th to 19th century with rising power such as the Russian, British, France and Prussian together greatly affected Ottoman's circle of influence that will get eroded over time until the WW1. The last is dealing with the transitional period of dead empire after ruin of WW1 and the creation of the modern Turkish republic that end the existence the empire. It is a joyful experience for me personally reading this book, because it gives some light about certain controversial topics regarding the Ottomans that always been promoted by the Western cultures. Some of them are true, some are not so much. Some in between. Indeed, history lies in details. By focusing on details, one can form an opinion, idea, or analysis of important historical remarks. Overall, I really enjoy this book and will recommend to anyone that care with reading history from a new fresh approach. It gives good effect in adjusting the preconceive stereotypes of the Ottomans whether from the Western or the Islamic world alike.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    This is the driest book in the world. There's no life behind the words. It was a slog but I got there in the end. I learned a lot about the Ottoman Empire, which was interesting, but it was SO DULL. This is the driest book in the world. There's no life behind the words. It was a slog but I got there in the end. I learned a lot about the Ottoman Empire, which was interesting, but it was SO DULL.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    With a title like Osman’s Dream and a publication year of 2005, one might expect that this work by Caroline Finkel would be an updated take on the history of the Ottoman Empire that incorporates the most recent research into the sociocultural dimensions of Anatolian history. That is not the case, however, as this massive tome instead provides an in-depth political and diplomatic history of the empire from its foundation to its dissolution, one that focuses on grand figures and, often enough, its With a title like Osman’s Dream and a publication year of 2005, one might expect that this work by Caroline Finkel would be an updated take on the history of the Ottoman Empire that incorporates the most recent research into the sociocultural dimensions of Anatolian history. That is not the case, however, as this massive tome instead provides an in-depth political and diplomatic history of the empire from its foundation to its dissolution, one that focuses on grand figures and, often enough, its relationship to and influence by Europe. While there is nothing wrong with this in theory, it may be a little disappointing for contemporary readers that the text lacks reference to much of the recent excellent social, and even economic, research on its topic and instead focuses on a traditional narrative where the actions of key politicians hold paramount importance. As such, the book’s greatest strength is its detailed treatment of events that are often glossed over or oversimplified in other works. A chapter by chapter review, therefore, would be not only tedious, but superfluous, as, from a broad perspective, the work does not offer any novel insights or theories that provide a significant challenge to existing narratives. This also means that this is not a publication to be read in one sitting, if its sheer length alone did not deter one from that notion in and of itself. Although the author does an excellent job of keeping the litany of names and events engaging, there is only so much that one can take in before it becomes overwhelming, and the nature of its objectives makes it impossible for there to be sufficient signposting and recapitulation to keep the reader on track. One example of the way in which this book shines brightest is in its treatment of the Auspicious Incident. Every other work that I have read that covers this event, both old and new, it as one where Sultan Mahmud II burned down the main barracks for the Janissaries and then unleashed a series of coordinated attacks in major cities, killing thousands and effectively eliminating this group as a key factor in Ottoman political life. These accounts, however, have always left me wondering exactly what preparations he undertook in order to make this attempt to destroy the Janissaries successful when so many other operations under other Sultans had failed. Finkel addresses this lacuna by providing a detailed explanation of what was occurring under Mahmud II’s reign that put him in a prime position to execute this plan and how he was able to establish a military force that was willing and able to carry out these attacks against the powerful Janissaries and subsequently form the foundation of a new army. The text is replete with these kinds of examples, and while much of this detail may not be new, it is the first time that I have seen it collected in a single volume, making this work perhaps the most comprehensive of its kind, at least from a high political perspective. Such detail might, admittedly, feel excessive or out of place in other works, and thus the primary audience for this would be regional specialists who require much more than an overview of the history to further their own research. The book is too involved and academic to hold the interest of the casual reader, while non-specialists might have a difficult identifying the key historical themes without prior knowledge of the topic. Despite its comprehensiveness, this is not an introductory tome to the Ottoman Empire; it is much better suited for filling in gaps in one’s knowledge and coming to a greater understanding of the totality of its subject matter. Overall, Osman’s Dream is a commendable work, but one that probably would have been better titled something along the lines of A Comprehensive History of the Ottoman Empire to better identify its content and purpose. Given its length and its objective, it is difficult to argue that the book would have been improved by including the social and economic research that has been undertaken over the past few decades, but it would have been useful to acknowledge this as a high political undertaking from the beginning, as my experience reading through was impacted by the expectations mentioned in the first paragraph of this review. I would recommend this book to academic specialists who want a more in-depth understanding of the major events in the Ottoman Empire’s history and know what to expect going into the work. It may not even be a book that one has to read in its entirety in order to appreciate it; a scholar may want to review a particular chapter, or even event, that concerns their research or represents a gap in their knowledge. I would not go so far as to say that this should be considered a textbook, but I would admit that it is best treated as something other than cover-to-cover read.

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