Lords of the Horizon: A History of the Ottoman Empire
Jason Goodwin is perhaps best known as the author of a detective novel series set in Ottoman Istanbul and featuring eunuch detective named Yasim. I’ve read a couple of those books and enjoyed them enough to pick up his much more serious history of the Ottoman Empire. I read this when E and I were on vacation in Turkey and Greece, traveling from Istanbul, to Ephesus, to the beaches of southern turkey. I visited many an Ottoman palace and historic marker, and this was an excellent companion.
I didn’t have much interest in this period of history before traveling to Turkey. That was an oversight. Though largely relegated to cliches about harems and turbans today, the Ottomans were, for a very long time, one of the world’s super powers. How they got from semi-nomadic warriors, to a global super power, to irrelevant vestige of a antiquated world view is a fascinating story covering hundreds of years. Goodwin does it all in under 500 pages. Lords of the Horizon gave me a good overview of the tumultuous history of Ottoman rule, but still easy going enough to be read on the beach. History by a guy who knows how to tell the tale is my kind of history. If you’ve any interest in this time period (and you should as it helped shape the modern world) this is a great place to start.
Side note: I quickly checked Goodwin’s Wikipedia page while drafting this review and discovered his birth father is John Mitchell. Mitchell is a first rate British eccentric, into UFO’s “earth mysteries” and traditionalism. A lot of roads around here are pointing towards traditionalism lately, it’s kind of weird.