In This Review

Turkish Kaleidoscope: Fractured Lives in a Time of Violence
Turkish Kaleidoscope: Fractured Lives in a Time of Violence
By Jenny White and Ergun Gunduz
Princeton University Press, 2021, 115 pp

A graphic novel based on the civil unrest that seized Turkey in the 1970s and led to the military coup of 1980, this book endeavors to capture the excitement, confusion, and, it appears, ultimate futility of the political activism of that era. White, an American anthropologist who was a student in Turkey at the time, and Gunduz, a Turkish artist and illustrator, collaborated to follow the political careers of four fictional student activists—two rightists and two leftists—as they clash over issues and causes they seem to understand poorly. As their battles spiral into factionalism and violence, they sacrifice family harmony, long-standing friendships, and promising professional careers. White correctly argues that the format of the graphic novel avoids the flattened abstractions of conventional academic analysis, but the book begs for an epilogue that would draw more universal conclusions and go beyond the wistful reminiscences decades later of now middle-aged protagonists. After all, the groups to which these young people pledged allegiance, whatever their putative ideologies, are all portrayed as being led by intolerant autocrats. In a different format, White and Gunduz might have shared their own speculation about what may or may not have changed in Turkey in the intervening decades.