Here you can find our best books on Turkey: the origins of the modern state, as well as books that explore its rich, varied and ancient culture.
Elif Shafak recommends books to understand Turkey’s social, cultural, and political complexity. In that interview, she discusses how the country has changed in recent decades and the relationship between modern Turkey and its Ottoman past. Elsewhere the late Professor Norman Stone, who taught at Bilkent University in Ankara, also discusses the country’s shifting relationship with its Ottoman past, and what the republic founded in 1923 sought to achieve and the merits of Turkey as a modern state in his discussion of Turkish history.
Hugh Pope, the former foreign correspondent and Turkey expert, discusses Turkish politics. He explains how the conflicts within modern Turkish politics are rooted in the way that Ataturk created the state in the before and after the Republic’s foundation. Finally, Thomas de Waal chooses his best books on the Armenian genocide, focusing on the human dimension rather than the politics of that tragedy.
For the best book on Turkish cuisine, turn to Nevin Halici's Turkish Cookbook.
Turkey’s most read author, Elif Shafak, describes Istanbul as ‘a she-city with a female personality’. She chooses five books on Turkey, including a biography of the she-city in all its vibrant energy and intensity.
Turkey is rediscovering its Ottoman past, says the British professor living in Ankara. He picks five books for compelling insights into Turkish history.
Birds Without Wings
by Louis de Bernières
Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950
by Mark Mazower
The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
by Mary Montagu & Robert Halsband (editor)
Twice a Stranger: The Mass Expulsions That Forged Modern Greece and Turkey
by Bruce Clark
The Bridge on the Drina
by Ivo Andrić
The Ottoman Empire rose to prominence towards the end of the medieval period, stunning the world with its rapid expansion and causing the collapse of the Byzantine Empire with its conquest of Constantinople in 1453. It would carry on being a major player in the world until the end of World War I. Here journalist Alev Scott, author of the very wistful travelogue, Ottoman Odyssey, recommends books that help bring alive an empire that was multicultural and multireligious, and whose legacy can still be felt around the Balkans, the Middle East and parts of Africa.
The Istanbul-based author and former foreign correspondent Hugh Pope discusses the legacy of Atatürk, the country’s convergence with Europe and why no book has yet been written on Erdogan and the AKP. He picks the best books to help understand Turkish politics.
Suleymanname: The Illustrated History of Suleyman the Magnificent
by Esin Atil (editor)
The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire
by Gülru Necipoglu
Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Ali
by Cornell Fleischer
Empress of the East: How a Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire
by Leslie Peirce
Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe
by John Julius Norwich
The Ottoman ruler Süleyman was one of the most powerful men in early modern Europe and highly adept at building his reputation for posterity. In European languages, he is still often graced with the epithet ‘the Magnificent.’ The reality was much more mixed, as a new biography of Süleyman shows. Historian Kaya Şahin talks us through books to better understand Sultan Süleyman and the world he lived in.
More than 100 years after the Armenian genocide, author Tom de Waal chooses books that sidestep the politics and bring us back to the human story. He picks the best memoirs of the Armenian genocide.