Ottoman Odyssey: Book summary and reviews of Ottoman Odyssey by Alev Scott

Ottoman Odyssey

Travels Through a Lost Empire

by Alev Scott

Ottoman Odyssey by Alev Scott X
Ottoman Odyssey by Alev Scott
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    320 pages
    Genre: Travel & Adventure

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Book Summary

An exploration of the contemporary influence of the Ottoman Empire on the wider world, as the author uncovers the new Ottoman legacy across Europe and the Middle East.

The author's odyssey began when she looked beyond Turkey's borders for contemporary traces of the Ottoman Empire. Their 800 years of rule ended a century ago―and yet, travelling through twelve countries from Kosovo to Greece to Palestine, she uncovers a legacy that's vital and relevant; where medieval ethnic diversity meets twenty-first century nationalism―and displaced people seek new identities.

It's a story of surprises. An acolyte of Erdogan in Christian-majority Serbia confirms the wide-reaching appeal of his authoritarian leadership. A Druze warlord explains the secretive religious faction in the heart of the Middle East. The palimpsest-like streets of Jerusalem's Old Town hint at the Ottoman co-existence of Muslims and Jews. And in Turkish Cyprus, Alev Scott rediscovers a childhood home. In every community, history is present as a dynamic force.

Faced by questions of exile, diaspora and collective memory, Alev Scott searches for answers from the cafes of Beirut to the refugee camps of Lesbos. She uncovers in Erdogan's nouveau-Ottoman Turkey a version of the nostalgic utopias sold to disillusioned voters in Europe and America. And yet―as she relates with compassion, insight, and humor―diversity is the enduring, endangered heart of this fascinating region.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In her quest to understand her complicated, tense childhood, Scott treats us to a lively grand tour of the lost Ottoman Empire and shows how contemporary leaders exploit simplified versions of history to support nationalist agendas." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is essential reading for those interested in how historical mythologies warp and contort individual lives." - Publishers Weekly

"A brilliant travelogue. Beautifully written. This book is only Scott's second, yet she writes with a maturity and insight that belies her age, and is surely a rising star of the literary world." - The Daily Telegraph (UK)

"A lovely, lyrical, and always insightful account that is as much about the present as the past. A joy from start to finish." - Peter Frankopan, New York Times bestselling author of The Silk Roads

"Alev Scott approaches the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean by side roads and unfrequented channels. Her book is clear, bright, humane, and never disheartened." - James Buchan, author of Days of God

"Beautifully written with clear-eyed judgments and a sharp ear for fascinating anecdote and memorable characters. Exhilarating and often eye-opening, it shows this crucial region of the world from a new perspective. Essential reading for anyone interested in Turkey and its history." - Michael Wood, author of In Search of Shakespeare'

"Brilliantly written with a real feel for character, the book is a pleasure to read and an erudite lesson in a fascinating chapter of modern history. An indispensable addition to our understanding of the Middle East today." - Roger Scruton, author of On Human Nature

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Author Information

Alev Scott

Alev Scott was born in 1987 to a Turkish mother and a British father. She studied Classics at New College, Oxford, where she was taught by Robin Lane Fox. After graduating, she worked in London as an assistant director in theater and opera before moving to Istanbul in 2011. Alev taught herself Turkish and immersed herself in the Turkish side of her heritage and wrote the widely acclaimed Turkish Awakening: Behind the Scenes of Modern Turkey, which was published in 2014. The book was brilliantly reviewed by Norman Stone, Owen Matthews, and Elif Shafak among others. She has since reported from Turkey for a wide number of newspapers, most specifically for the Financial Times.

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