The Kemalists

The Kemalists

Islamic Revival and the Fate of Secular Turkey

Book - 2005
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Random House, Inc.
A sprawling land with a fascinating, diverse, and ancient heritage, Turkey is literally at the crossroads of East and West. Sitting astride the Bosporus, which bridges Asia and Europe, modern Turkey maintains a precarious balancing act between Western secularism and orthodox Islamic revival. Now as Turkey prepares to enter the European Union, it is more important than ever for Westerners to acquire an understanding of the history and politics that have shaped this key nation of the Near East.

Journalist Muammer Kaylan has spent a long, distinguished career writing about the politics and current events of modern Turkey. Part memoir and part history, his life story spans the beginning of the secular Republic of Turkey, created by Kemal Atatürk’s sweeping reforms of the 1920s and 1930s, to the combustible uncertainties of the present day.

Designed mainly for Western readers unfamiliar with Turkey’s history, Kaylan’s narrative discusses the origin of the Turks, how they were converted to Islam, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, the legacy left by that collapsed empire, and the founding of the modern secular Republic of Turkey by Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk overturned many centuries of Islamic tradition and imposed wide-ranging secular reforms on the nation’s politics, culture, and social customs.

But today with the rise of fundamentalist Islam, Turkey’s modern secular state is threatened by pressure from within and without to re-establish the old theocratic state ruled by Islamic law. What this portends for a secular Turkey in the future remains to be seen, but Kaylan underscores the possible wide-ranging effects on the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and even Europe. Cautiously optimistic, he concludes that, despite the reassertion of traditional Islamic values, a secular and democratic Turkey can still play a vital and constructive role in this crucial and volatile region of the world.

Book News
Photojournalist Kaylan explains the impact of Turkey's secular reforms in the 1920s and 1930s, imposed on a defeated, backward nation ruled for centuries by Shariah, Islam's version of canon law. He also explains how, though political irresponsibility and greed, the nation's clock was later turned back and points out the multitude of potential danger signs caused by a militant Islamic reactionary movement. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2005
ISBN: 9781591022824
Branch Call Number: 956.103 MUAMM
Characteristics: 482 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Notes: Includes index


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