Lords of the Horizon

Women’s History Month is barreling toward us and I am happily working on bringing you another March full of mini-interviews with people who are doing interesting work in women’s history. In the meantime, I’m sharing some of the books I’ve rediscovered in the process of finding room on my office shelves for the books I used in writing The Dragon From Chicago. (The danger with this is the temptation to re-read the books as I go. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for all the as yet unread books piled throughout my office.)

Next up, Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin

Lords of the Horizon was published in 1998, and I probably bought my copy soon after that. It is by far the most readable of the accounts of the Ottoman Empire that I have accumulated over the years.* Goodwin is an accomplished guide through the six centuries of Ottoman rule, from the empire’s origins in a nomadic people on the Eurasian steppes through its heydays in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to its eventual end in 1922. His prose style is lush and lyrical.. His narrative style is an idiosyncratic, non-linear blend of vivid anecdotes and deft historical summary–occasionally requiring the reader (i.e. me) to stop for a moment to figure out where she is in the bigger arc. He writes brilliantly about the Ottomans at war, but his focus is on the creation and maintenance of an empire that was multicultural at its heart.** As far as I was concerned, occasional moment of chronological confusion (Mine, not Goodwin’s.) were worth it—a fair exchange for moments of startling insight.

Goodwin went on to write a series of mystery novels set in mid-nineteenth century Istanbul, the first of which The Janissary Tree, won an Edgar. Also well worth reading, both for the story and as an introduction to the world of the Ottoman empire on the edge of decay. (Time for a re-read, I think.)

*At first I said “collected over the years,” but that suggests a more focused approach than I can claim.

**I am eternally fascinated by multicultural societies.


Apologies to those of you who hit the link to pre-order a signed copy of The Dragon for Chicago and found that it had gone bloooey. (I know at least one of you did—otherwise I wouldn’t know it had failed. Thank you, Dr. Wetmore.) It worked at the time I published the last two posts. Honest.

Here is a new link, which looks less crazy than the old link and is currently working: https://www.semcoop.com/dragon-chicago-untold-story-american-reporter-nazi-germany (Please let me know if it fails.)

A reminder of how this works: There is a space at the bottom of the order page to add special instructions. Request a signed copy there, and specify how you want the book to be signed.

You can also preorder the book wherever you usually buy books.  Thank you.

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