Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter mobile phone number.
The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920 Kindle Edition
Customers who bought this item also bought
A vivid account of the fighting that led to the fall of one of the world's great empires -- Roger Owen, Professor Emeritus of Middle East History, Harvard University
Eugene Rogan has written a meticulously researched, panoramic, and engrossing history of the final years of the Ottoman Empire. This book is essential reading for understanding the evolution of the modern Middle East and the root causes of nearly all the conflicts that now plague the area. An altogether splendid work of historical writing -- Ali Allawi (author of The Occupation of Iraq)
An excellent historian who does a fine job. Impressively sound and fair-minded -- Max Hastings, Sunday Times
A timely and capacious history... compelling and brilliant -- Jeremy Seal, Sunday Telegraph
Remarkably readable, judicious and well-researched -- Mark Mazower, Financial Times
About the sad end of dreams of empire, a subject that was not represented accurately in my high school textbooks back in Istanbul. -- Orhan Pamuk --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- File size : 7394 KB
- Print length : 570 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Penguin; 1st edition (26 February 2015)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00SSKM6TM
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #53,553 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
More items to explore
Review this product
Top reviews from India
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The 17-18th century is an era which coincided with technology and enlightenment advancement. The benefit was reaped by European power and they left Ottoman Empire far behind. In the last few centuries, Ottoman Empire had lost significant territories to others. They lost almost every war with their Eastern neighbour Russia and with its territories too. In the year 1911, they fail to prevent Italy from annexing Libya. In 1912, the Balkan League comprising of Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria waged a war on the Empire with the objective of driving them away from Europe. It was a major fiasco for the Empire. The morale and confidence of military was in tatters.
Still, what bought them to the war ? First and foremost, it was Russia’s territorial ambition. In Ideal circumstance, the Empire would have relied on Britain or France to keep Russia in Check. Now neither of the two nations can be counted on as they along with Russia are allies in Triple Entente. In trouble time, the Empire needed a strong friend to counteract them and it turned out to be Germany. The empire’s entry into the war was an acquiesce , resulting out of this alliance driven by circumstances. With more than 7500 miles of border and coastlines spanning Black Sea, The Persian Gulf, The Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the Ottomans presented their enemies with many points vulnerable to Allies attack. This was further exacerbate by nascent Arab revolt, where sizable numbers turned against them.
Despite odds and colossal damage, the stultifying Ottoman forces surprisingly were able to thwart Allied forces and the war extended to 4 years. However, they ended up on the defeated side, gaining nothing from the tenacity. The war imposed greater hardship and bought greater despair. The upshot of the War is the creation of modern Middle East, divided under British or French dominion. The empire hold on Balkan region dwindled to naught.
One of the gruesome and horrifying event has been genocide which was perpetrated by the Ottoman force on hapless Armenians in Anatonia ; allegation being disloyalty and treason. There were deep seated antipathy towards the Armenians. Males from 12 onwards were killed within sight of horrified womenfolk in smaller town. While in larger town, they were killed at a location where murder could not be witnessed by foreigners. The survivors were escorted out of the town under armed guard, where they faced robbery and wholesome massacre. Sick and elderly were killed as they fell behind. Though the death has been presented as negligence due to war ,but the fact is that top military brass were involved in the shenanigans. The genocide has left an indelible mark on the history and still etched on mind of Armenian generation that followed.
The key subjects which did not find a mention in the review here includes , The rise of Young Turks , How Germany bolstered Empire army, Call for jihad to bring Muslims to Ottoman side, menace of flies, Russian withdrawal from war after Tsar was overthrown, unhygienic condition of trances, Arab revolt, contribution of Australian, New Zealand and Indian forces to Allied victory . Also excluded are episodes of humanity showed by both the sides. The Ottoman soldiers occasionally used to throw raisins , hazelnut and almonds to enemy side while invaders reciprocated with cans of fruits of jam. The book is all about infantry, cavalry, artillery , and everything related to war front. The events were placed chronologically and the author has been through giving with facts. It’s not easy to hold on to readers attention, even for history buffs , to such war chronicles. The author proves otherwise. The book has managed to answer every questions that I had in mind prior to reading it. This is a decent but painstaking job done on an egregious subject. The research done is commendable. There is so much to write on the subject that even shortening the review has been a difficult task.
Top reviews from other countries
‘Fall of the Ottomans’ contains often dramatic stories of marches and battles but goes well beyond military history, telling us about the countries, characters and wider issues involved, drawing on accounts by people of many nations, from generals and ambassadors to corporals and priests.
I use the terms Ottoman and Turkish partly interchangeably below but ‘Ottoman Empire’ (named after the ruling dynasty) was the country’s official name. The core of the Empire was Turkish but it covered much of the Middle East.
In the English speaking world, we tend to hear of aspects of the Ottoman role in the 1914-1918 War in isolation: Gallipoli, Lawrence of Arabia & the Arab revolt, the Armenian massacres, General Allenby's army conquering the Holy Land, the awful fate of British Empire troops besieged at Kut-el-Amara, and the often forgotten Turkish-Russian front, but we are rarely told which of these was most important or how they affected each other. This is the first work I have read to pull all these together. It also mentions aspects of the war I didn’t know existed. To give a couple of examples out of many:
-In 1916 a Russian army advanced through Persia to within 100 miles of Baghdad, threatening to capture it before the British;
-Hundreds of thousands died of famine in Syria during the war, caused by drought, locusts, disruption by war and Allied naval blockade.
Unlike some historians, the author gives fair prominence to the French and French Empire forces at Gallipoli as well as British Empire forces there.
In the earlier part of the war, the Dardanelles, including Gallipoli [Gelibolu in modern Turkish], the straits guarding the approach by sea to the Ottoman capital Constantinople/ Istanbul, were the main front for the Turks, who sent more than half their army there.
When the Allies withdrew from Gallipoli in January 1916 several Turkish divisions should have been freed to take the initiative on other fronts. However, much of this advantage was neutralised by a daring surprise Russian attack. In apparently impossible winter conditions in the Caucasus Mountains, the Russians under General Yudenitch outflanked and destroyed the majority of the Turkish Third Army, advanced deep into Eastern Turkey, and caused shock across the Ottoman Empire.
The breakdown of the Russian army's discipline and spirit after the 1917 Revolutions relieved the pressure on the Ottoman Empire’s eastern front. This could have allowed the Turks to reinforce their by then hard-pressed other fronts and perhaps hold out for longer. However, once again the Ottomans lost their chance, committing substantial forces to a vain attempt to recover territory lost in the nineteenth century in the Caucasus.
One limitation of this book is that it does not explain how the Ottoman government and constitution worked. We are told there was a Sultan and a Parliament, but little else about them or what they did. All important decisions seem to have been made by a group of three key ministers, who had come to power by violence rather than election, and who all died violently within a few years of the war's end. We are also not told why the Empire was unable to mobilise as many troops as the European powers, despite what must have been a large population if the Empire's Arab lands are included.
A puzzle for the Allies was the unpredictability of Ottoman resistance. In 1915-16 the Allies’ unsuccessful Gallipoli campaign and disastrous advance up the River Tigris to Kut el-Amara were in hindsight dangerously over-ambitious. However, that was not obvious beforehand because in earlier encounters Ottoman forces showed little fight.
The Ottoman army could be ferocious, courageous and tenacious, as at Gallipoli defending their capital, led by an effective general like Mustafa Kemal [later called Atatürk] . Yet morale could be brittle. After 200 years of almost continuous defeats by Western countries, most recently in 1911-1913 by Greece, Serbia and Italy, Ottoman confidence was shaky. [Another historian once wrote that the First World War showed the Ottoman Empire was worn-out and rotten and doomed, but that the Turkish people were not.]
Across the Empire the Ottoman army conscripted Muslim Turks, Arabs and Kurds, Christian Greeks and Armenians, and Jews. Such a diverse army’s loyalty to the Ottoman cause naturally varied.
Even before the officially sanctioned murder and starvation of the Empire’s Armenian Christians in 1915-16, Armenians in the Ottoman army were being murdered by Turks and Kurds serving with them. This was both the cause and the consequence of the willingness of Armenians to desert to the Allies, often bringing useful information about the numbers and position of Ottoman troops.
Legalistic arguments about whether the Turkish atrocities against Armenian and Assyrian Christians during the First World War were ‘genocide’ can be a pointless distraction from the fact that they were horrifyingly cruel. However, ‘genocide’ is accurate. The intention was that even if not all shot or bayoneted, most Armenians would die from the harsh conditions on their supposed re-settlement marches. (The author does not deal with the argument in Bostom & Warraq ‘The Legacy of Jihad’ that forced re-settlement marches under conditions in which many were bound to die deliberately revived a medieval Muslim tactic against conquered unbelievers.)
In the aftermath of the war, the then Turkish government admitted that massacres of Armenians had occurred and put several officials on trial for ordering them. This was reported in the Turkish press. The government hoped that singling out individuals for blame would avoid the victorious Allies holding the Turkish nation as a whole responsible.
Once the Turks recovered their confidence and military power in the early 1920s under Atatürk, that was no longer necessary. Successive later Turkish governments have refused to admit that the massacres occurred, presumably to try to protect the reputation of Turkey.
This may have had the opposite effect. In denying that there were massacres of Armenians at all, the Turks are unable to explain the context. Armenian terrorists had killed Muslim civilians as well as vice versa. Armenians in the Ottoman capital Constantinople / Istanbul, foolishly, openly celebrated the Allied landings at Gallipoli, and openly hoped Constantinople would fall to the British and French. That does not justify the Turks’ terrible revenge, but it does show that the fault was not entirely on one side.
Some of the British and Empire troops surrounded and starved into surrender at Kut el-Amara in Mesopotamia later wrote about their hardships in the siege, but could not bear to write about what happened after they surrendered. As prisoners of the Turks they endured ‘death marches’ similar to those recently inflicted on Armenian civilians, whose bones could sometimes be seen by the roads along which British, Indian and Australian Prisoners of War were made to march.
During the War, most interested parties plotted how they might gain if the Ottoman Empire fell. Armenians and some Arabs wanted independence. The Allies secretly agreed to share out Ottoman territory between themselves after the war. Yet Britain also promised a largely independent state or federation of states for the Arabs; and to the Jews a national homeland, although not necessarily an independent state, in Palestine, although most of the then population of Palestine were Arabs.
Those who like to blame the West and especially Britain for everything therefore single out Britain’s hard to reconcile promises to different parties at different stages in the war as making Britain the real villain, to blame for the current woes of the Middle East.
Well, yes and no. I am uncomfortable reading about the partly broken promises of Arab independence made by Britain to the Hashemite family (Sharif Hussein of Mecca and his sons such as Feisal) to encourage them to lead the Arab revolt.
On the other hand I cannot help feeling that Britain is sometimes held to a different standard than everyone else, and no allowance made for circumstances. The British were hardly the only ones to make hard to reconcile promises to different parties in pursuit of their own interests, under the pressure of fighting the biggest war in history up to that time. Sometimes survival trumps principles.
The Turks on the outbreak of war offered their support (at a price) to both sides until Germany made them the better offer. The Germans sought to strengthen their alliance with Turkey by spreading false rumours there that Kaiser Wilhelm II had converted to Islam. The future leaders of the Arab revolt pledged allegiance to the Ottoman Empire even as they secretly schemed with Britain to overthrow it. They later agreed to recognise French rule in Syria after the war while privately intending to forcibly drive the French out as soon as the opportunity arose.
The often awful history of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq under independent Arab rule since the 1940s hardly suggests that independent Arab rule was always a good thing anyway.
While the Hashemites were badly disappointed at the peace settlement, they still got the kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan out of it and reign in Jordan to this day. Mecca and most of the Arabian Peninsula, for the first time for hundreds of years, ended up under Arab rule, even if mainly by the rival Saudi dynasty rather than the Hashemites.
Mr Ronan writes with great clarity and an obvious command of his subject.
The three fallen Empires were the Russian (consequence: 70 years of totalitarianism), the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman. It is how the latter fell that this fine book is about. The empire was shaky well before the outbreak of war with pressure from Arab Nationalism, Russian expansionism and from a changing leadership in Istanbul itself. The “Young Turks” were modern challengers to the hegemony of “Divine Right” Ottoman rule and whilst their lust for power was the main driver they nevertheless also wanted to modernise a State rather lost in its past. When the war broke out there was a brief flirtation with Britain and the Allied Powers but the logic, as they saw it, of joining Germany and Austro-Hungary was stronger. That was certainly what the Germans wanted and the military alliance that they established was strong with some German officers running Ottoman units. The Ottoman military record was actually quite good with Gallipoli, that mad and deadly Churchillian adventure, being a triumph for them – albeit a horrendously costly one in respect of loss of life. Gallipoli was not the only Ottoman win against the Allies and the latter needed to reinforce their Armies in the region as well as building their own alliance with the Hashemite (Arab Nationalist) forces. This latter story (Lawrence of Arabia and all) is wonderfully and illuminatingly well told.
In the end a combination of their own internal contradictions, venality (especially the Armenian massacre) and the overwhelming force of a strong opposition was to defeat the Ottomans and in the post war peace negotiations the Empire was forcibly broken up. In the post war period Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created a modern State of Turkey and the imperial dream disappeared. It would not have happened without the Great War, at least not so quickly
This is a magnificent and very readable book. Much of the research is original and Rogan puts the story together very skilfully. You cannot really understand the Great War without understanding the part the Ottomans played in it – and the consequences were profound.
It never happened but it did shape Entente war planning to be more cautious and reduced the pressure on the Ottomans.
Neither did it prevent Britain and France from planning a carve up of the Ottoman Empire long before the prospect of actually defeating the enemy, and encouraging Arab rebellion whilst still planning to take over most of the Arab regions and allow a homeland in Palestine for Zionist Jews. We live with the tragic consequences of the post war settlement today, so this period of history remains relevant.