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Book Review: 100 Years of the Turkish Republic

Logo for the journal "Ny tid"

CMES researcher Svante Lundgren has written a review of a book which provides a solid overview of Turkey's history as the country approaches its centenary this autumn.

The reviewed book is called Drama utan slut. Turkiet 100 år. (English translation: Drama Without End. Turkey 100 Years.) and was written by journalist Bitte Hammargren and photographer Stefan Bladh (Atlas, 2023). Svante's review was published in Ny Tid on 11 August 2023.

The book provides a solid overview of Turkey's history as the country approaches its centenary this autumn, with insightful and well-written text paired with numerous color photographs. It covers the republic's history from the time it was proclaimed by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) on October 29, 1923 until the beginning of this year, including the devastating earthquake in February.

Hammargren deals with the most important things in a variety of ways: Atatürk, the father of the republic, the transition from the multicultural Ottoman Empire to a nation state, Erdoǧan's path to power and his increasingly authoritarian rule, the abrupt changes in foreign policy, the various minorities (Alevis, Armenians, Jews, Assyrians/Syrians; the Kurdish question gets its own chapter), the impact of the Syrian war on Turkey, the opposition to Erdoǧan (the Gezi protests), the huge investment in infrastructure with the accompanying gentrification of Istanbul and other large cities, the failed coup d'état in 2016 and the accompanying purge wave, the Gülen movement.

It is important to emphasize that this is not a question of a historical overview of the history of Turkey. One such is given and it is solid, but this is primarily a reportage and photo book. Hammargren and Bladh have traveled a lot in Turkey and in the book we get to meet and see many interesting people they have met over the years: politicians and social activists but above all what you usually call ordinary people: Kurds in the eastern parts of the country, Assyrian/Syrian priests, people who have fallen victim to state repression, Roma living on the streets of Istanbul and many more.

Read the full review (in Swedish)

Svante Lundgren's research profile