Mango, the author of the best biography of Atatürk and other works on Turkey, is at the top of his form here. The first four chapters provide a general political history of Turkey since Atatürk, weaving the account around the roles of the successive leaders, from Atatürk to Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mango then turns to thematic topics, including the economy, education, the Kurds, and Turkish efforts to join the European Union. Short chapters on Ankara and Istanbul limn these two major cities and also bring out the different strands that make up Turkish political culture. This book might well be thought of as a national saga, a bildungsroman of that scion of Atatürkism, the Republic of Turkey. It is, on balance, a sanguine account, but Mango fairly states the tribulations of this national "growing up." And who can resist a book with a chapter on Turkey's would-be Western orientation that is titled "Red Apple or Sour Grapes?"
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.