In This Review

Atatürk: The Founder of Modern Turkey
Atatürk: The Founder of Modern Turkey
By Andrew Mango
Overlook Press, 2000, 666 pp

From the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded something quite different -- a nation-state called Turkey. The life of Atatürk (or "Father of the Turks," his adopted sobriquet) makes for an epic story many times told. Mango himself lists 16 biographies of Atatürk dating from as early as 1932 (6 years before Atatürk's death) and including 6 in the last few years. This latest biography is a dense but readable narrative reconstruction of Atatürk's life, avoiding both hagiography and hatchet job. His military and political career before the creation of Turkey takes up more than half of the book. With a judicious weighing of often contradictory accounts and an impressive combing of Turkish sources, Mango follows Atatürk in confrontation with his immediate circle of supporters and rivals. But why did Atatürk and his revolutionary program prevail? Even with Mango's meticulous detail, the answer to this question remains elusive.