Atatürk--and After

The definitive portrait--and vindication--of Turkey's founding father.

Issue: Fall 2000

Andrew Mango, Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey (Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1999), 539 pp., $40.

Upon entering the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., one is immediately confronted with a massive bust of the "Father of the Turks", Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk is the very personification of the modern Turkish state-indeed, Turkey is one of only a few countries whose national ideology, in its case Kemalism, derives from a single individual.

AtatŸrk was unquestionably one of the greatest political figures of the last century. Modern Turkey most likely would not exist today, certainly not in its present form, if this brilliant statesman had not rallied the people of a collapsed Ottoman Empire, fought off the imperial forces of Europe, and established a nation-state in Anatolia. He brought Turkish society into the modern era at an extraordinary pace and, at least among the elite, inculcated a Western way of life that has made Turkey the most successful Muslim state in the world.

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