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Excerpts from books related to the country of Turkey
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1.       Sampanya
48 posts
 20 Jan 2012 Fri 05:11 am

[Little sections of books relating to Turkey may be quoted here.]


Please share with the rest of Turkishclass.com users, and the website’s

passers-by, some insight on the magnificent country of Turkey. All the better

 to promote Turkey and teach each other about this jewel of a country.


2.       Sampanya
48 posts
 20 Jan 2012 Fri 05:24 am

Excerpt from:

‘Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds’ Author Stephen Kinzer

Quotation of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who was able to describe

Istanbul to a friend in terms that made the Turks seem the most civilized

people on Earth:

"I confess to you that my Turkish prejudices are very much confirmed by my residence in Turkey. The life of this people greatly accords with my taste, which is naturally somewhat indolent and melancholy, and I do not think would disgust you. To repose on voluptuous ottomans, and smoke superb pipes, daily to

indulge in the luxuries of a bath which requires half a dozen attendants for its perfection, to court the air in a curved caique by shores which are a continual scene and to find no greater exertion than to canter n a barb, is I think a far

more sensible life than all the bustle of clubs, and all the boring of saloons—

all of this without coloring and exaggeration is the life which may be here commanded accompanied by a thousand sources of calm enjoyment and a thousand modes of mellow pleasure, which it would weary you to relate, and which I leave to your own lively imagination."



Pit of barbarism or seat of wisdom and tolerance? As the Ottoman Empire gave way to the Turkish Republic in the early years of the twentieth century, the outside world was uncertain which of these two perceptions to believe.

It still is. Many people, including more than a few statesmen, view modern

Turkey as a backward land plagued by vast social inequalities, grotesque

human-rights violations and a callous, corrupt and militaristic regime.

Others, believing that Turks have contributed to civilization rather than having sought to destroy it, hope they will overcome their problems and soon emerge

as a powerfully modern nation. And the Turks themselves?

For centuries they shaped world history, and are the not-so-distant memory of Ottoman glory allows them to believe they can again.


Edited (1/20/2012) by Sampanya

3.       Sampanya
48 posts
 20 Jan 2012 Fri 05:36 am

Excerpt from:

‘Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds’ Author Stephen Kinzer

If Ataturk could return to see what has become of his nation, he undoubtedly would be astonished at how far it has come. Muddy villages have become

bustling cities and cow paths have become superhighways.

Universities and public schools are to be found in even the most remote

regions. The economy is unsteady but shows bursts of vitality.

Turkish corporations and business conglomerates are making huge amounts of money and competing successfully in every corner of the globe. Hundreds of young men and women return home every year from periods of study abroad. People are educated, self-confident and eager to build a nation that embodies the ideals of democracy and human rights. The ruling elite, however, refuses to embrace this new nation or even admit it exists.

Military commanders , prosecutors, security officers, narrow-minded bureaucrats,

lapdog newspaper editors, rigidly conservative politicians and other members of

this sclerotic cadre remain psychologically trapped in the 1920’s.


They see threats from across every one of Turkey’s eight borders and, most dangerously, from within the country itself. In their minds Turkey is still a

nation under siege. To protect it from mortal danger, they feel obliged to run it themselves. They not only ignore but actively resist intensifying pressure from educated, worldly Turks who want their country to break free of its shackles and complete its march toward the democracy that was Ataturk’s dream.

This dissonance, this clash between what the entrenched elite wants and what more and more Turks want, is the central fact of life in modern Turkey.

It frames the country’s great national dilemma. Until this dilemma is somehow resolved, Turkey will live in eternal limbo, a half-democracy taking half-steps toward freedom and fulfilling only half its destiny.

The most extraordinary aspect of this confrontation is that both sides are seeking, or claim to be seeking, the same thing: a truly modern Turkey.

Military commanders and their civilian allies, especially the appointed prosecutors, judges and governors who set the limits of freedom in every town and province, consider themselves modernity’s great and indispensible defenders. They feat democracy not on principle, but because they are convinced it will unleash forces that will drag Turkey back toward ignorance and obscurantism. Allowing Turks to speak, debate and choose freely, they believe, would lead the nation to certain catastrophe. To prevent that catastrophe, they insist on

holding ultimate political power themselves and crushing challenges wherever they appear. Yet what this means in practice is that state power is directed relentlessly against the very forces in society that represent true modernity. Writers, journalists and politicians who criticize the status qou are packed off

to prison for what they say and write. Calls for religious freedom are considered subversive attacks on the secular order.


Expressions of ethnic or cultural identity are banned for fear that they will

trigger separatist movements and ultimately rip the country apart.

When foreign leaders remind Turkey that it can never become a full member of the world community as long as its government behaves this way, they are denounced for harboring secret agendas whose ultimate goal is to wipe Turks

off the face of history.


http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Modern-Gentleman (Add your own Turkish flairs, support technology and modernism, be creative and legal for the sake of the country Turkey)

Edited (1/20/2012) by Sampanya
Edited (1/20/2012) by Sampanya

4.       Sampanya
48 posts
 20 Jan 2012 Fri 05:49 am

A Lesson In Rakı

The first friends I made in Turkey told me that if I really wanted to understand their country, I would have to drink a lot of rakı. These were wise people, so I took their advice. Every year the annual level of rakı consumption in Turkey

rises slightly more than one million liters, and my contribution to the increase

has not been inconsiderable. 

In the bottle rakı is absolutely clear, but it is rarely consumed that way.

Instead it is mixed with water, which turns it translucent. Drinking it has the same effect on one’s perception of Turkey. After a glass or two, what at first 
seemed clear becomes obscure. By the time the bottle is empty, everything appears murky and confused.
Yet through this evocative haze, truths about Turkey may be most profoundly understood. Many countries
have national drinks, but rakı is much more than that because it embodies the very concept of Turkey.

The mere fact that a Muslim land would fall under the spell of a powerful

distilled drink is enough to suggest this nation’s unexpected and tantalizing appeal. Do not speak to a Turk about ouzo or other anise-based drinks

supposed to reflect the characters of the other lands. The careful mix of natural ingredients in rakı and the loving process by which it is distilled, they believe, make it gloriously unique.


History books say that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died from the effects of overindulgence in rakı. That is only partly true.

In fact he died from an overdose of Turkey. His involvement with Turkey,

like his involvement with rakı, was so passionate and so intense that it ultimately consumed him. The same almost happened to me. I had admired Turkey from afar, but it was only after long

nights drinking rakı with friends that I came to understand the true audacity

of the Turkish idea. Its grandeur and beauty filled me with awe.

My excitement rose with each glass as I realized how much Turkey has 

to share with the world,

to give to the world,

to teach the world.

I should have stopped there, but you never do with rakı. That is the blessing and its curse. As months and years passed, rakı began to work subtly on my mind. Slowly the delight I had found in discovering Turkey became mixed with other, more ambiguous emotions. No longer did my evenings end with the exhilarating sensation that I had found a jewel of a country poised on the brink of

greatness. Rakı led me inexorably toward frustration and doubt. It never shook my conviction that Turkey is a nation of unlimited potential, but it did lead me

to wonder why so much of its potential remains unrealized. (My note: Exactly!) Turkey is undoubtedly the country of the future, but will it always be, or is it condemned to remain an unfulfilled dream, an exquisite fantasy that contains within it the seeds of its own failure? There are as yet no answers to those questions, and therein lies the Turkish conundrum. This nation is still very much

a work in progress, a dazzling kaleidoscope of competing images and ideas.

Born of trauma and upheaval, it remains deeply insecure, shrouded in old fears

and uncertain which direction it should take.



[Source: ‘Crescent & Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds’ Author Stephen Kinzer Copyright  1994]

My Notes: I suggest this must -read book. Mr. Kinzer dedicates this book to the people of

Turkey and has much praise for it. Stephen Kinzer was also the first New York Times bureau

chef in Istanbul.


5.       Sampanya
48 posts
 20 Jan 2012 Fri 05:53 am

A Lesson In Rakı  ...continued ....

 Rakı is the key to Turkey, not because of the drink itself but because of the circumstances in which one consumes it. This is not a drink like whiskey, useful for solitary reflection; not like beer, good for drinking in a noisy bar while munching on pretzels; and not like gin or vodka, lubricants for cocktail-party chatter. Bars and cocktail parties are, in fact, mortal enemies of the Turkish drinking tradition. Resistance to these pernicious influences is centered around the meyhane, a sort of bistro created especially for rakı drinking.

The meyhane is a temple of Turkish cuisine, but it is also a place where people meet, talk, debate, embrace and lament. Turkey’s diversity is most tangible at the meyhane because it is spread out on tables for all to see.

An evening at a meyhane is centered around rakı, but rakı never stands alone.

It is only one component, albeit the essential one, of a highly stylized ritual. With rakı always comes meze, small plates of food that appear stealthily, a few at a time. Theoretically, meze are appetizers leading to a main course, but

often the main course, like Turkey’s supposedly great destiny,never

materializes. No one complains about that because eating meze while sipping rakı is such a supreme pleasure in itself. The path is so blissful that the idea

of a destination seems somehow sacrilegious. Meze makes a feast, but drinking rakı with them raises the experience to a truly transcendent level. 

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6.       Sampanya
48 posts
 01 Feb 2012 Wed 10:18 pm

The Turks have a passion for education, and children are under intense pressure to perform well. Secular education has benefited from the importance given in Islamic culture to the transmission and acquisition of religious knowledge. Education has always been deemed an act of piety; now it is also a patriotic duty. Primary schools have a weekly flag ceremony, at which the children chant in unison:

I am a Turk. I am honest. I work hard. I have a principle--to protect my juniors, to respect my seniors, to love my country and my nation more than myself. I have an ideal--to rise and go forward. Great Atatürk! I swear to march without stopping on the road you have opened to the end you have chosen. May my existence be a gift to the [common] existence of the Turks. Happy is he/she who calls himself/herself a Turk.
Turkey has travelled a long way to modernity, with its rewards and also its problems. There are still pitfalls on the way, but the goal is in sight. -Andrew Mango, born in Istanbul;

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7.       tunci
7149 posts
 02 Feb 2012 Thu 12:28 am


Nice pictures Şampanya

Güzel bir post.


8.       Sampanya
48 posts
 21 Jun 2013 Fri 09:12 am

More Excerpts on the way! [Especially of Atatürk]



9.       LonsingerAmber
34 posts
 22 Jun 2013 Sat 06:46 am

Source: “Crescent and Star : Turkey Between Two Worlds”

Author:Stephen Kinzer

_______Please Note: The author does have expressed opinions within the book. This information is possibly outdated. Copyrighted in 2001, this book is “Dedicated to the people of Turkey”. Nonetheless, please disregard if unappealing to your perspective. Make your own, preferably unexpressed as to appeal to everyone, inferences on the excerpts below. The added notes were written by me._______




“Turkey must create a democracy that shines not just by regional standards

but by world standards. This transformation will require Turks to change the

way they view themselves and their relationship to society.”-------

“Turkish leaders have sought to bind their people together by creating a concept called devlet. Devlet is an omnipotent entity that stands above every citizen and every institution. Loyalty to Devlet is held to be every Turk’s most fundamental obligation, and questioning it is considered treasonous. It’s guardians are a self-perpetuating elite—the generals, police chiefs, prosecutors, judges, political bosses and press barons who decide what devlet demands of the citizenry. This elite has written many laws to help it do what it perceives as its duty and when necessary it acts outside the law.

[“..not even law may be allowed to obstruct it…”] -------------


“The reason that freethinkers must be imprisoned in Turkey is not simply

because they speak against hallowed principles, however because they threaten devlet. Saying no is the main duty of devlet. Saying yes means saying no to dissent, no to iconoclasm, no to new ideas, no to the kind of boldness and

daring that propelled Atatürk to greatness. In the end, it means saying no to

the possibility of Turkey rising to fulfill what could be a glorious historic



---------“Devlet’s defenders detest the notion of tolerance because they believe tolerance will allow the spread of ideas that will ultimately kill Turkey.” -------------


10.       LonsingerAmber
34 posts
 22 Jun 2013 Sat 06:54 am

 “According to its constitution, Turkey is a secular state with no official religion. The truth is that Turks profess and must profess, a highly developed faith enveloping and defining every aspect of their lives. It is the cult of Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic and now a virtual deity. “----------


“The Atatürk faith, known as Kemalism, has its buildings, dozens of houses and rooms around the country where the Great Man slept, spoke or ate. Without Atatürk’s vision, without his ambition and energy, without his astonishing boldness in sweeping away traditions accumulated over centuries, today’s

Turkey would not exist and the world would be much poorer.”---------


“Fascism, national socialism, and bolshevism have been swept away by history, leaving a heritage of immeasurable suffering and pain, however Kemalism remains triumphant, modern Turkey its crowning glory. Trying to understand Turkey without understanding Atatürk would be like studying European history without considering Christianity. -----------------


“For everything in the world, for civilization, for life, for success---the truest

guide is knowledge and science,” Atatürk declared in one famous speech.-----------“The man around whom this passionate faith was built remains largely unknown outside his homeland. [“…Perhaps it is simply because Turkey has remained for so long on the fringes of the world’s consciousness….”] He deserves to be recognized and celebrated as one of the twentieth century’s most successful revolutionaries.” ---------------

“While still a young officer, Kemal became a clandestine operative for a subversive group founded in the 1890’s and known as the “Committee of Union and Progress” ; the world called its members Young Turks.” ---------------


“To the astonishment of Europe and the world, in 1915 a Turkish force managed to resist and then repel British-led invaders whose battle plan had been drawn up by no less a personage that First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill.”-----------


“In some places I have seen women who put a piece of cloth or a towel or the like over their heads to hide their faces, and who turn their backs or huddle themselves on the ground when a man passes by,” Kemal said in one speech. “What are the meaning and sense of this behavior? Gentlemen, can the

mothers and daughters of a civilized nation adopt this strange manner, this barbarous posture? It is a spectacle that makes the nation an object of ridicule. It must be remedied at once.” -------------------



“We must free ourselves from these incomprehensible signs which for centuries have held our minds in an iron vice, “ Kemal told them [Note: ‘Them’ = Turkey’s leading figures at a gathering] “Our nation will show, with its script and with its mind, that its place is with the civilized world.”-------------------------


“Kemal took fewer years to wipe away the defining traditions of Turkish life

than centuries had been spent building them” [“..including a ban on the

broadcast of Oriental music and a decree that ezan, the Muslin call to prayer, must be chanted in Turkish rather than Arabic.”----------------------------------------


“After the war was won, however, Kemal did not hesitate to crush former allies who opposed his radical program.” ------------


“Kemal decreed that each citizen must have a last name. The head of every family was ordered to choose one. Today there are names like Berberoğlu (barber´s son), karamehmetoğlu (Black Mehmet´s son), and even

Yarımbıyıkoğlu (son of the man with the high-mustache). Others took martial names like Eraslan (bravelion) or Demirel (iron hand). For those who had trouble choosing, books of names were sent to every town hall. Many people selected lyrical ones like Sarıgül (yellow rose) or Akyıldız (pale star).

Only one name was forbidden: Atatürk (Father of Turks). That was the name Kemal chose for himself. ----------------


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