During the last half century of its existence, the Ottoman Empire and the lands around its borders were places of constant political turmoil and unceasing military action. The enormous costs of war were paid not only by politicians and soldiers, but by the Ottoman civilian population as well. This book examines the hardships that ordinary people, Muslim and Christian alike, endured during decades of warfare.
Jeremy Salt brings to the surface previously ignored facts that disrupt the conventional narrative of an ethno-religious division between Muslim perpetrators and Christian victims of violence. Salt shows instead that all major ethno-religious groups-including Armenians, Turks, Kurds, and Greeks-were guilty of violent acts. The result is a more balanced picture of European involvement in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans, one that highlights the destructive role of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and other European leaders grabbing for Ottoman resources up to the end of World War I. The effects of these events are felt to the present day.
This extraordinary story centers not on military campaigns but on ordinary civilians whose lives were disrupted and in many cases destroyed by events over which they had no control. Disease, malnutrition, massacre and inter-communal fighting killed millions of people during the First World War alone. Until now this epic saga of human suffering has remained a story largely untold.
Jeremy Salt retired in 2015 as an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Bilkent University, Ankara. He is the author of several books.
Praise and Reviews:
“This book is especially notable in its detailed coverage. The author brings together much material that has previously only been considered in separate works. He covers a broad range of time and geography, yet remains focused on a central theme-the effect of the end of the Ottoman Empire on the Ottoman peoples. The assertions in the book are balanced and well proven.”
-Justin A. McCarthy, author of The Armenian Rebellion at Van
“Makes a valuable contribution to the crowded field of work on late Ottoman history. The author provides a ground-level survey of the impact of the Ottoman wars between 1877 and 1923 on ordinary people, in everything from inflationary economic turmoil and the destruction of livelihoods, to ethnic violence and forced migrations, to the humanitarian fallout of the Allied blockade in World War I. It is particularly salutary that the author details the oft-neglected plight of Muslim as well as Christian and Jewish victims, and gives substantial attention to conflicts other than World War I, which tends to dominate the literature.”
-Sean McMeekin, author of The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908-1923