- World War I and the End of the Ottomans: From the Balkan Wars to the Armenian Genocide ed. by Hans-Lukas Kieser, Kerem Oktem, Maurus Reinkowski (review)
- Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, May 2017
- pp. 218-223
- View Citation
- Additional Information
218 Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Vol. 4.1 researchers who are interested in big projects. It contributes to the understanding of how the Baghdad Railway combined fiction, politics, art, philosophy, and technology as well as imperialism and colonialism. Ali Demir University of Zurich doi:10.2979/jottturstuass.4.1.12 Hans-Lukas Kieser, Kerem Oktem, Maurus Reinkowski, eds. World War I and the End of the Ottomans: From the Balkan Wars to the Armenian Genocide. London: I. B. Tauris, 2015. 320 pp. Cloth, $110. ISBN: 978-1784532468. The First World War culminated in profound social, political, and demographic outcomesthatplayedacriticalroleinalteringthecourseoftheOttomanEmpire, steering its decline to demise. The demise of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire cleared the way for the new, ostensibly homogenous nation-states. The postwar order in the Middle East, however, was not borne out of a vacuum but was instead built upon the long-term political, economic, and demographic changes set in motion by the war. Proper comprehension of these changes is crucial to any interpretation of the region’s history through the present day. Yet, a thorough historical contextualization of the circumstances and factors which led the empire to enter WWI has not received its merited level of study, still calling for meticulous dissection and analysis. World War I and the End of the Ottomans: From the Balkan Wars to the Armenian Genocide, a collection edited by Hans Lukas Kieser, Kerem Öktem, and Maurus Reinkowski, fills a significant gap in late Ottoman historiography. The authors have employed various archival materials in diverse languages— more than can be mastered by a single scholar—including Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, and Kurdish. Their research manifests linkages between events in the empire’s distant regions, from Macedonia to eastern Anatolia to Palestine, and from the battle front to the home front. This edited volume hones in on matters pertaining to connections between war in the Middle East a century ago and war in the region today, bestowing upon it a contemporary relevance scarcely found in WWI scholarship. This collective volume is the resultant product of two impressive conferences , “The Ottoman Cataclysm: Its Beginnings” and “The Ottoman Cataclysm: Interconnected Geographies, Mobilization, and the Road to Total War (1913–1915),” held in Switzerland in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Much has been written in an attempt to explain and construe the causes, the course, and the ramifications of WWI within the context of the classic European theatres Book Reviews 219 of war. One of the distinguishing features of World War I and the End of the Ottomans is its contribution to the endeavor to understand WWI and its global consequences, transcending a narrow focus on Central Europe and broadening the perspective to include particularly the Ottoman Empire’s Anatolian and Balkan possessions, as well as—in a more adversary manner—Palestine. The editors of the volume bring forth a new perspective by arguing that not only the history of the Ottoman Empire but also that of modern Turkey and the Middle East—at least until 1918—cannot be understood “without examining the cataclysmic transformation that the region underwent in the years 1912–1922” (pp. 1–2). Indeed, from the Congress of Berlin to the outbreak of the Balkan Wars, a potent combination of zero-sum imperialism, irredentist nationalism, and modernizing states transformed the Ottoman world into a conflict zone. The violence that mushroomed in the nineteenth century and escalated to the point of total war at the turn of the twentieth century, however, was qualitatively different: “It was systemic, was pervasive, and pitted one community against another, whether the members of those communities desired to be active participants in this struggle or not.”1 Beginning with the Balkan Wars in 1912–13, continuing throughout WWI and theArmenian Genocide, and finally reaching its zenith with the Turkish War of Independence in 1922, the Ottoman Empire underwent a decade of intermittent warfare, a political configuration which impacted the (re)structuring of the Middle East. In order to elucidate and scrutinize these various dynamics, the authors of the volume in question extend the gaze beyond the imperial capital, Istanbul, and seek to study three interwoven lands of the Ottoman realm: Palestine, the mostly KurdishArmenian eastern...