Lords of the Horizons by Jason Goodwin
A History of the Ottoman Empire

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Since the Turks first shattered the glory of the French crusaders in 1396, the Ottoman Empire has exerted a long, strong pull on Western minds. For six hundred years, the Empire swelled and declined. Islamic, martial, civilized, and tolerant, in three centuries it advanced from the dusty foothills of Anatolia to rule on the Danube and the Nile; at the Empire's height, Indian rajahs and the kings of France beseeched its aid. For the next three hundred years the Empire seemed ready to collapse, a prodigy of survival and decay. Early in the twentieth century it fell. In this dazzling evocation of its power, Jason Goodwin explores how the Ottomans rose and how, against all odds, they lingered on. In the process he unfolds a sequence of mysteries, triumphs, treasures, and terrors unknown to most American readers.

This was a place where pillows spoke and birds were fed in the snow; where time itself unfolded at a different rate and clocks were banned; where sounds were different, and even the hyacinths too strong to sniff. Dramatic and passionate, comic and gruesome, Lords of the Horizons is a history, a travel book, and a vision of a lost world all in one.

About Jason Goodwin

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Historian, journalist, and travel writer, Jason Goodwin lives in West Sussex, England, with his wife and two sons. A regular contributor to The New York Times and Condé Nast Traveler, Jason Goodwin received the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for On Foot to the Golden Horn.
Published April 12, 1999 by Henry Holt and Co.. 368 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Goodwin argues convincingly that the key to Ottoman success, besides an obvious skill at war, was their open-mindedness regarding cultures and institutions: The Ottoman umbrella made room for Spanish Jews, Orthodox Greeks, Venetian merchants, Albanian tribesmen, Arab bedouins, and others.

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He attributes the calcified empire's decline not only to corruption and the rise of France and Russia but to the Turks' prideful ignorance of the West, a vanity that eventually deprived the empire of the fruits of modernity.

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