You are here:   Civilisation >  Books > A Turkish Delight

What does seem important is the degree of blame laid on the Turks. Stone points out that many of the attacks were carried out by Kurdish or Arab tribes. This leads us to the question of responsibility for these deported Armenians and whether the Turkish authorities could have done more to prevent the attacks (or whether in fact they unleashed them). Stone mentions that the government ordered the trials of some 1,500 Turks, of whom 50 were executed, but does not discuss in what position of authority these people were, or for what exactly they were tried. He also does not offer any kind of figure for those massacred. We are in murky waters, perhaps not suitable for a short history, or indeed a review. 

Another tricky subject that Stone rather skirts around is Cyprus, briefly comparing it to Crete in its difficulties with European "peace-keeping" efforts in times of crisis. An important aspect of the Cyprus issue is how it affects Turkey's entry into the EU, which Stone touches on in the final page of the book: "Europeans had been allowed in Greek Cyprus before the problem of Turkish Cyprus had been resolved, and the Greeks could therefore obstruct Turkey's progress. Did this in any case matter very much?" Yes, it did and it still does, though Turkish Eurosceptics (by no means all of whom are frothing fundamentalists or batty pan-Turkicists) are entitled to feel as smug as their British counterparts. The Turkish economy has continued to boom while Euro-induced austerity throttles the PIGs. 

Politics aside, Stone does justice to the enormous complexity of Turkish history, and the book will suit anyone interested in Turkish oddities but daunted by the vastness of their explanation. A world-weary Besiktas manager might sum it up in the following way: "It's a game of two halves. You win some (empires), you lose some. You back the wrong side (Germany, 1914), a visionary captain (Atatürk) emerges and saves the day. Now the bookies are going crazy over the question of the season: will we qualify for EU or won't we?" It's a cliffhanger.

View Full Article
Bored on Friday Afternoon
March 4th, 2011
3:03 PM
Norman Stone and Bernard Lewis have boxed themselves into a corner on the Armenian genocide. They can stay there.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.