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Publisher's Summary

This brilliantly readable work of history tells the bizarre story of the Ottoman Empire as seen through the lives of its extravagant and tyrannical sultans. With their absolute power, their love of pomp, and their overwhelming venality and corruption, rarely has a great empire been ruled by such grotesque and awesome figures.

There was Suleiman the Magnificent, who allowed his wife to persuade him to murder his eldest son and his best friend; Murad III, who left 103 children behind him when he died; Mustafa, who was kept in a cage, attended by deaf-mutes, until he ascended to the throne. There were sultans who practiced their archery on living people; sultans who drowned the ladies of their harem by the score; and sultans who gave the reins of empire to their favorite eunuchs.

For 400 years, they fought wars, terrorized their subjects, made Turkey into a great empire, and then allowed her to decline into ostentatious and impotent decay.

©1973 Noel Barber (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • United States
  • 07-17-14

One of the indispensables for several reasons:

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Anyone curious of history will discover what an alternative universe in this world can really mean.

What did you like best about this story?

To much to choose from.

What about Frederick Davidson’s performance did you like?

Took awhile getting used to but turned out precisely correct.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I am history buff but was not prepared for this important missing gigantic chasm that needed redress.

Any additional comments?

This presents the consequences and development of an historic civilization as planted by Ghengis Kahn`s lineage. A real life lesson on first causes. This story does not reach into that previous so check out Dan Carlon`s wrath of the Kahn`s.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Both entertaining and informative

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely. The book filled in some important gaps in my knowledge of history, and was hard to put down. The Ottoman empire played an extremely important part in European history, and this book helps one to understand some essential elements: what was behind the terror that the Turks held for Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, why the empire fell apart, what the consequences were of this collapse. Come lurid details are indispensable for understanding.The almost caricatural but alas all too real excesses of the Ottoman sultans and their social-cultural support system is a good point of departure for reflecting on the importance of democracy (which sometimes seems a fallible system) and also on the role of religion in sustaining tyranny.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Frederick Davidson?

Yes. He is not among my favorite readers, however.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Armenians were deliberately killed by the tens of thousands, for the flimsiest of reasons.When a particularly able general, betrayed by his sultan, was finally wounded and captured and treated with great courtesy by his captors.When Attaturk's first paramour hurries to his side upon receiving news of his divorce, only to be refused entrance, and is found dead in the street the next day with a bullet in her.

Any additional comments?

This is one of those audiobooks I could hardly put down, and I will surely listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • J.
  • Moorhead, MN, United States
  • 07-05-16

Mamas don't raise your sons to be Jannisaries

Talk about job insecurity. Rise to the throne of the Ottoman Empire and see how long you last. After listening to Barber's account of the succession of inept misfits who murdered their way to the top only to fall prey to a similar fate at the hand of their brother or son, you wonder how this "Sick Man of Europe" was ever born in the first place. Barber explains the mechanisms of religion (Islam) and martial prowess (in the form of slave Christian soldiers-- the Janissaries) served as the foundations of Ottoman power. He also shows how the erosion of these institutions through inheritance and the power of palace eunuchs brought about the empire's demise. For every Suleiman the Great there were a dozen blithering idiots just begging to be dispatched by the silken bowstring. Even Ataturk, who in school I was taught was an enlightened reformer gets negative reviews by Barber as a vindictive philandering tyrant. The book is somewhat dated being written in 1973 and there is a large bibliography of more resent works in the wake of Edward Said's Orientalism that places the Islamic world in a more sympathetic light. The one advantage we do enjoy from this work's age is that it could be narrated by the late great Frederick Davidson (aka David Case.) One either loves or hates Davidson. For me his resonating voice comes as the word of God.

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0 of 2 people found this review helpful