Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds

Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two WorldsIf Turkey lived up to its potential, it could rule the world — but will it? A passionate report from the front lines.

For centuries few terrors were more vivid in the West than fear of “the Turk,” and many people still think of Turkey as repressive, wild, and dangerous.Crescent and Star is Stephen Kinzer’s compelling report on the truth about this nation of contradictions — poised between Europe and Asia, caught between the glories of its Ottoman past and its hopes for a democratic future, between the dominance of its army and the needs of its civilian citizens, between its secular expectations and its Muslim traditions.

Kinzer vividly describes Turkey’s captivating delights as he smokes a water pipe, searches for the ruins of lost civilizations, watches a camel fight, and discovers its greatest poet. But he is also attund to the political landscape, taking us from Istanbul’s elegant cafes to wild mountain outposts on Turkey’s eastern borders, while along the way he talks to dissidents and patriots, villagers and cabinet ministers. He reports on political trials and on his own arrest by Turkish soldiers when he was trying to uncover secrets about the army’s campaigns against Kurdish guerillas. He explores the nation’s hope to join the European Union, the human-rights abuses that have kept it out, and its difficult relations with Kurds, Armenians, and Greeks.Will this vibrant country, he asks, succeed in becoming a great democratic state? He makes it clear why Turkey is poised to become “the most audaciously succesful nation of the twenty-first century.”

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In concise and elegant prose, Stephen Kinzer captures the excitement of modern Turkey with all its complexities and ambiguities, still struggling to define itself and its place “between two worlds,” as he so aptly puts it. Turkey matters greatly to us, given its crucial role in both Europe and the Middle East, and this vivid book, both personal and analytical, is the best recent work on the subject.
–Richard Holbrooke
Stephen Kinzer ground-truths Turkey. He lets Turkey’s political reality emerge upwards from cafes and villages— you hear the voices of average people in these pages—and he shows that good journalism conveys the history and culture of a country so that readers can put its politics in perspective. The result is an intriguing portrait of a pivotal nation in historic transition.
–Robert D. Kaplan
A critical but affectionate portrait of Turkey’s recent history that throws considerable light on the complex ways of this strategically important ally of the West.
The Economist
Kinzer’s adventures in Turkey gave him in-depth knowledge and real appreciation for the country and its potential. He makes a powerful case that this is a country we must watch.
Chicago Tribune
[A] sympathetic account of Turkey’s problems, interspersed with vignettes of the pleasures of Turkish life. Vividly illustrated with the people and events Kinzer covered during his four years in Turkey, the book seeks to explain a confused and complex country both to itself and the outside world A passionately argued analysis.
Financial Times
A sharp, spirited appreciation of where Turkey stands now, and where it may head.
Philadelphia Inquirer 

2 Responses

  1. New Turkey versus old clichés – Duvar English

    […] established. Subtitled “Turkey Between Two Worlds,” Stephen Kinzer’s 2008 Crescent and Star depicted the country as “[a] nation of contradictions — poised between Europe and Asia, caught between the glories […]

  2. Suzanne Swan
    Suzanne Swan at | | Reply

    No writers or authors who cared about Turkey and depicted the country as vibrant and exciting with so much untapped potential (didn’t we all do this?) could have forecast the descent into the cruel and crude political maelstrom that we see today. The ‘new’ Turkey turned out to be much like the old one only far worse. No great democratic state going on here . . . . .

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