A Military History of the Ottomans: From Osman to Atatürk

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ABC-CLIO, 2009 - History - 379 pages
4 Reviews

The Ottoman Army had a significant effect on the history of the modern world and particularly on that of the Middle East and Europe. This study, written by a Turkish and an American scholar, is a revision and corrective to western accounts because it is based on Turkish interpretations, rather than European interpretations, of events. As the world's dominant military machine from 1300 to the mid-1700's, the Ottoman Army led the way in military institutions, organizational structures, technology, and tactics. In decline thereafter, it nevertheless remained a considerable force to be counted in the balance of power through 1918. From its nomadic origins, it underwent revolutions in military affairs as well as several transformations which enabled it to compete on favorable terms with the best of armies of the day. This study tracks the growth of the Ottoman Army as a professional institution from the perspective of the Ottomans themselves, by using previously untapped Ottoman source materials. Additionally, the impact of important commanders and the role of politics, as these affected the army, are examined. The study concludes with the Ottoman legacy and its effect on the Republic and modern Turkish Army.

This is a study survey that combines an introductory view of this subject with fresh and original reference-level information. Divided into distinct periods, Uyar and Erickson open with a brief overview of the establishment of the Ottoman Empire and the military systems that shaped the early military patterns. The Ottoman army emerged forcefully in 1453 during the siege of Constantinople and became a dominant social and political force for nearly two hundred years following Mehmed's capture of the city. When the army began to show signs of decay during the mid-seventeenth century, successive Sultans actively sought to transform the institution that protected their power. The reforms and transformations that began frist in 1606successfully preserved the army until the outbreak of the Ottoman-Russian War in 1876. Though the war was brief, its impact was enormous as nationalistic and republican strains placed increasing pressure on the Sultan and his army until, finally, in 1918, those strains proved too great to overcome. By 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk emerged as the leader of a unified national state ruled by a new National Parliament. As Uyar and Erickson demonstrate, the old army of the Sultan had become the army of the Republic, symbolizing the transformation of a dying empire to the new Turkish state make clear that throughout much of its existence, the Ottoman Army was an effective fighting force with professional military institutions and organizational structures.


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Excellent book. Well written, well researched. There are few books on Ottoman military history that go into as great of detail as this. That being said, accounts of certain wars and other military conflicts in the empire's history, such as Habsburg War of 1663-1664, the Cossack raids on the Black Sea, and a number of the empire's wars with Poland-Lithuania are missing. However, this is probably more attributable to a lack of precise records from the 17th century than anything else. An excellent and highly informational book on the complete military history of the Ottoman Empire. 

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Why the second review (if it is worthy of the name) is still standing here months on, I do not understand. Since the writer of the review cannot even write English correctly, his judgements do not have to be taken very seriously. They certainly sound motivated. Uyar is not plodding in the steps of Uzuncarsili (admittedly an excellent writer though not translated into English and not usually regarded as a military history) he has produced a narrative which is original and analytically incisive. This is the only decent work of its sort in English. It deserves to be strongly recommended not stabbed in the back. 


1 Early Middle Eastern Military Systems and the Foundation of the Ottoman Military 13001453
2 Classical Period 14511606
3 Transformation and Reform Efforts 16061826
4 Fighting for Survival 18261858
5 The Beginning of the End 18611918
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About the author (2009)

Mesut Uyar a Graduate of Turkish Military Academy, is a career military officer. He is formerly lecuturer of international relations and curator of the archive and museum at the Turkish Military Academy.

Lt. Col. Edward J. Erickson, US Army (retired) is a combat veteran of the first and second Gulf Wars. He has a PhD from the University of Leeds. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the Ottoman Army during the early twentieth century.

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