The Fall of the Ottomans

The Great War in the Middle East


By Eugene Rogan

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The thrilling and definitive history of World War I in the Middle East

By 1914 the powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and they pulled the Middle East along with them into one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. In The Fall of the Ottomans, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan brings the First World War and its immediate aftermath in the Middle East to vivid life, uncovering the often ignored story of the region’s crucial role in the conflict. Unlike the static killing fields of the Western Front, the war in the Middle East was fast-moving and unpredictable, with the Turks inflicting decisive defeats on the Entente in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Gaza before the tide of battle turned in the Allies’ favor. The postwar settlement led to the partition of Ottoman lands, laying the groundwork for the ongoing conflicts that continue to plague the modern Arab world. A sweeping narrative of battles and political intrigue from Gallipoli to Arabia, The Fall of the Ottomans is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Great War and the making of the modern Middle East.



A Revolution and Three Wars, 1908–1913

BETWEEN 1908 AND 1913, THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE FACED GRAVE internal and external threats. Starting with the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, the political institutions of the centuries-old empire came under unprecedented strain. Domestic reformers sought to bring the empire into the twentieth century. European imperial powers and the newly emergent Balkan states went to war with the Turks in pursuit of Ottoman territory. Armenian and Arab activists sought greater autonomy from the weakened Turkish state. These issues, which dominated the Ottoman government’s agenda in the years leading up to 1914, laid the foundations for the Ottoman Great War.

THE AGING SULTAN ABDÜLHAMID II CONVENED HIS CABINET IN A CRISIS session on 23 July 1908. The autocratic monarch faced the greatest domestic threat to his rule in over three decades on the throne. The Ottoman army in Macedonia—that volatile Balkan region straddling the modern states of Greece, Bulgaria, and Macedonia—had risen in rebellion, demanding the restoration of the 1876 constitution and a return to parliamentary rule. The sultan knew the contents of the constitution better than his opponents. One of his first measures on ascending the Ottoman throne in 1876 had been to promulgate the constitution as the culmination of four decades of government-led reforms known as the Tanzimat. In those days he was seen as an enlightened reformer. But the experience of ruling the Ottoman Empire had hardened Abdülhamid from reformer into absolutist.

The roots of Abdülhamid’s absolutism can be traced to a series of crises the young sultan faced at the very start of his reign. The empire he inherited from his predecessors was in disarray. The Ottoman treasury had declared bankruptcy in 1875, and its European creditors were quick to impose economic sanctions on the sultan’s government. The Ottomans faced growing hostility from European public opinion in 1876 for the violent suppression of Bulgarian separatists branded the “Bulgarian horrors” by the Western press. The Liberal leader William Gladstone led British condemnation of Turkey, and war was brewing with Russia. The pressure took its toll on the rulers of the empire. A powerful group of reformist officers deposed Sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861–1876), who, less than a week later, was found dead in his apartments, the veins of his wrist slashed, an apparent suicide. His successor, Murat V, collapsed in a nervous breakdown after only three months on the throne. Against this inauspicious background, the thirty-three-year-old Abdülhamid II ascended to power on 31 August 1876.

Powerful cabinet ministers pressed the new sultan to introduce a liberal constitution and an elected parliament with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish members as a means to prevent further European intervention in domestic Ottoman affairs. Abdülhamid conceded to the demands of the reformists in his government, more out of a sense of pragmatism than conviction. On 23 December 1876, he promulgated the Ottoman constitution, and on 19 March 1877, he opened the first session of the elected Ottoman parliament. Yet, no sooner had the parliament met than the empire was embroiled in a devastating war with Russia.

The Russian Empire saw itself as the successor to Byzantium and the spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Russia also had expansionist aims. It coveted the Ottoman capital, Istanbul, which until 1453 had been the centre of Orthodox Christianity and the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. These were more than just cultural ambitions. Once in possession of Istanbul, the Russians would control the geostrategic straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles linking Russia’s Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean. Throughout the nineteenth century, however, it suited Russia’s European neighbours to confine the tsar’s fleet to the Black Sea by preserving the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Frustrated in their aspirations to occupy Istanbul and the straits, the Russians exploited Balkan nationalist independence movements to interfere with Ottoman affairs while advancing their territorial aims through periodic wars with the Ottomans. By the end of 1876, troubles in Serbia and Bulgaria provided Russia the opportunity for another expansionist war. After securing Austrian neutrality and Romania’s permission for Russian forces to march through its territory, Russia declared war on the Ottomans in April 1877.

The tsar’s forces made rapid gains into Ottoman territory in the Balkans and, attacking through the Caucasus, into eastern Anatolia, massacring Turkish and Muslim peasants as they swept forward in their two-front assault. The Russian attack provoked public outrage in Ottoman domains. Sultan Abdülhamid II played on his Islamic credentials to secure popular support in the war against Russia. He took the banner of the Prophet Muhammad, which had been in Ottoman keeping since the empire occupied the Arab lands in the sixteenth century, and declared jihad, or holy war, against the Russians. The Ottoman public rallied to their warrior-sultan, volunteering for military service and contributing money to the war effort—and the armed forces managed to bring the Russian advances into Ottoman territory to a halt.

While Abdülhamid was gaining popular support for the war effort, members of parliament (MPs) were growing increasingly critical of the government’s handling of the conflict. Despite the sultan’s jihad, the Russians had resumed their forward progress by the end of 1877 and reached the outskirts of Istanbul in late January 1878. In February, the sultan convened a meeting with parliamentarians to consult on the conduct of the war. One MP, who was the head of the bakers’ guild, chided the sultan: “You have asked for our opinions too late; you should have consulted us when it was still possible to avert disaster. The Chamber declines all responsibility for a situation for which it had nothing to do.” The baker’s intervention seems to have convinced the sultan that the parliament was more of a hindrance than a help to the national cause. The very next day, Abdülhamid suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament, and placed some of the most critical MPs under house arrest. Abdülhamid then began to exercise direct control over the affairs of state. By that point, however, the military situation was beyond salvation, and the young sultan had to accept an armistice in January 1878 with Russian forces at the gates of his capital.1

In the aftermath of defeat to Russia in 1878, the Ottomans suffered tremendous territorial losses in the peace treaty concluded in the Congress of Berlin (June–July 1878). Hosted by Germany and attended by the European powers (Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, and Italy), the congress sought to resolve not just the Russo-Turkish War but the many conflicts in the Balkans as well. By the terms of the Treaty of Berlin, the Ottomans lost two-fifths of the empire’s territory and one-fifth of its population in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia. Among the territories surrendered were three provinces in the Caucasus region of eastern Anatolia—Kars, Ardahan, and Batum—that, as Turkish Muslim heartlands they could not be reconciled to losing, would come to be the Ottomans’ Alsace-Lorraine.

The Ottomans lost further territories to the European powers in addition to those surrendered in the Treaty of Berlin. Britain secured Cyprus as a colony in 1878, France occupied Tunisia in 1881, and after intervening in Egypt’s 1882 crisis, Britain placed that autonomous Ottoman province under British colonial rule. These losses seemed to convince Sultan Abdülhamid II that he needed to rule the Ottoman Empire with a strong hand in order to protect it from further dismemberment by ambitious European powers. To his credit, between 1882 and 1908 Abdülhamid protected Ottoman domains from further dismemberment. Yet the territorial integrity of the state was preserved at the expense of its citizens’ political rights.

Abdülhamid’s autocratic style of rule eventually gave rise to an increasingly organized opposition movement. The Young Turks were a disparate coalition of parties bound by the common goals of constraining Abdülhamid’s absolutism, restoring constitutional rule, and returning to parliamentary democracy. Among the most prominent parties under the Young Turk umbrella was the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), a secret society of civilians and military men founded in the early 1900s. Though the CUP had branches in all parts of the Ottoman Empire—the Arab lands, the Turkish provinces, and the Balkans—the movement had faced most repression in the Turkish and Arab provinces. By 1908, the CUP’s centre of operations lay in the surviving Ottoman possessions in the Balkans—in Albania, Macedonia, and Thrace.2

In June 1908, spies working for the sultan uncovered a CUP cell in the Ottoman Third Army in Macedonia. Faced with imminent court-martial, the military men decided to take action. On 3 July 1908, a CUP cell leader named Adjutant Major Ahmed Niyazi led two hundred well-armed soldiers and their civilian supporters in a revolt, demanding that the sultan restore the 1876 constitution. They all fully expected to die in the attempt. However, the rebels captured the public’s mood and their movement gained momentum as it drew increasing support from the population at large. Whole cities in Macedonia rose in rebellion and declared their adherence to the constitution. A Young Turk officer named Major Ismail Enver—who later rose to fame as just Enver—proclaimed the constitution in the Macedonian towns of Köprülü and Tikveş to popular acclaim. The Ottoman Third Army threatened to march on Istanbul to impose the constitution in the empire’s capital.

Three weeks on, the revolutionary movement had grown so big that the sultan could no longer count on the loyalty of his military to contain the uprising in Macedonia. This was the emergency that drove the sultan to convene his cabinet on 23 July. They met in Yildiz Palace, perched on a hill overlooking the Bosporus Straits on the European side of Istanbul. Intimidated by the sixty-five-year-old sultan, the ministers avoided raising the crucial question of the restoration of constitutional rule. They spent hours deliberating about whom to blame rather than addressing the necessary solution to the crisis.

After a day spent listening to the tergiversations of his ministers, Abdülhamid brought the discussion to a close. “I will follow the current,” he announced to the cabinet. “The constitution was first promulgated under my reign. I am the one who established it. For reasons of necessity, it was suspended. I now wish for the ministers to prepare a proclamation” restoring the constitution. The relieved ministers acted immediately on the sultan’s instructions and dispatched telegrams to all of the provinces of the empire to announce the dawn of the second constitutional era. For their success in forcing the sultan to restore the constitution, the Young Turks were credited with having waged a revolution.3

It took a moment for the significance of the events to sink in. The newspapers ran the story without banner headlines and with no commentary: “Parliament has been reconvened in conformity with the terms of the constitution, by order of His Imperial Majesty.” Perhaps it was a reflection of how few people bothered to read the heavily censored Ottoman press that it took a full twenty-four hours before the public reacted to the news. On 24 July, crowds gathered in the public spaces of Istanbul and provincial towns and cities across the empire to celebrate the return to constitutional life. Major Enver rode the train to Salonica (in modern Greece), the centre of the Young Turk movement, where the jubilant crowds greeted him as a “champion of freedom”. On the platform to greet Enver were his colleagues Major Ahmet Cemal, military inspector of the Ottoman railways, and Mehmed Talat, a postal clerk. Both had risen through the hierarchy of the CUP and, like Enver, came to be known by their middle names, Cemal and Talat. “Enver,” they cheered, “you are now Napoleon!”4

Over the following days, red-and-white banners emblazoned with the revolutionary slogan “Justice, Equality, and Fraternity” festooned city streets. Photographs of Niyazi, Enver, and the military’s other “Freedom Heroes” were posted in town squares across the empire. Political activists gave public orations about the blessings of the constitution, sharing their hopes and aspirations with the general public.

The hopes raised by the constitutional revolution drew together all parts of the diverse Ottoman population in a moment of shared patriotism. Ottoman society comprised a wide range of ethnic groups, including Turks, Albanians, Arabs, and Kurds, as well as many different faith communities—the Sunni majority and Shiite Muslims, over a dozen different Christian denominations, and sizeable Jewish communities. Past attempts by the government to foster an Ottoman national identity had foundered on this diversity, until the constitutional revolution. As one political activist wrote, the Arabs “embraced the Turks wholeheartedly, in the belief that there were no longer Arabs or Turks or Armenians or Kurds in the state, but that everyone had become an Ottoman with equal rights and responsibilities”.5

The joyful celebrations of newfound freedoms were marred by acts of retaliation against those suspected of taking part in Abdülhamid’s repressive apparatus. The Ottoman Empire under the sultan had degenerated into a police state. Political activists were imprisoned and exiled, newspapers and magazines were heavily censored, and citizens looked over their shoulders before speaking, fearful of the ubiquitous spies working for the government. Muhammad Izzat Darwaza, a native of the Palestinian hill town of Nablus, described the “explosion of resentments in the first days of the Revolution against those government officials great and small known to be a spy or corrupt or oppressive”.6

Yet, for most people, the Young Turk Revolution inspired a newfound sense of hope and freedom that was nothing short of intoxicating. The joys of the moment were captured in verse, as poets from across the Arab and Turkish lands composed odes to celebrate the Young Turks and their revolution.

        Today we rejoice in liberty thanks to you

        We go forth in the morning and return in the evening without concern or strain

        The free man has been set loose from prison where he was demeaned

        And the beloved exile has returned to the homeland

        For there are no spies whose slanders he need fear

        And no newspapers we need fear to touch

        We sleep at night with no dreams that cause us anxiety

        And we rise in the morning without dread or terror7


Those who had hoped for political transformation were disappointed when the revolution produced no major changes in the government of the Ottoman Empire. The CUP decided to leave Sultan Abdülhamid II on the throne. He had managed to take some credit for the restoration of the constitution and was revered by the Ottoman masses as both their sultan and the caliph, or spiritual head, of the Muslim world. Deposing Abdülhamid might have generated more problems than benefits for the Young Turks in 1908. Moreover, the CUP’s leaders were indeed young Turks. Mostly junior officers and low-ranking bureaucrats in their late twenties and thirties, they lacked the confidence to take power into their own hands. Instead, they left the exercise of government to the grand vizier (prime minister), Said Pasha, and his cabinet and took on the role of oversight committee to ensure the sultan and his government upheld the constitution.

If Ottoman citizens believed the constitution would solve their economic problems, they were soon to be disappointed. The political instability provoked by the revolution undermined confidence in Turkish currency. Inflation soared to 20 percent in August and September 1908, putting the working classes under intense pressure. Ottoman workers organized demonstrations seeking better pay and work conditions, but the treasury was in no position to meet the workers’ legitimate demands. Labour activists mounted over one hundred strikes in the first six months after the revolution, leading to severe laws and a government crackdown on workers.8

Crucially, those who believed the return to parliamentary democracy would gain Europe’s support and respect for the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire were to be humiliated. Turkey’s European neighbours seized on the instability created by the Young Turk Revolution to annex yet more Ottoman territory. On 5 October 1908, the former Ottoman province of Bulgaria declared its independence. The following day, the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire announced the annexation of the autonomous Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also on 6 October, Crete announced its union with Greece. Turkey’s democratic turn had not won it more support from the European powers and instead rendered the empire more vulnerable.

The Young Turks sought to regain control over the revolution through the Ottoman parliament. The CUP was one of only two parties to contest the election, held in late November and early December 1908, and the Unionists (as members of the CUP were called) won an overwhelming majority in the lower house, co-opting many independents into CUP ranks. On 17 December, the sultan opened the first session of parliament with a speech that asserted his commitment to the constitution. The leaders of both the elected lower chamber and the appointed upper chamber replied to the sultan’s speech, praising Abdülhamid for the wisdom he showed in restoring constitutional government. The exchange created the illusion of harmony between the sultan and the CUP. Yet absolute monarchs do not change overnight, and Abdülhamid, unreconciled to constitutional constraints on his powers or parliamentary scrutiny, bided his time for the first opportunity to dispense with the Young Turks.

Once the enthusiasm for revolution had abated, the CUP came to face serious opposition within Ottoman political circles and from influential elements of civil society. The religion of state was Islam, and the religious establishment condemned what they saw as the secular culture of the Young Turks. Within the military, there were clear splits between the officers, who were graduates of the military academies and had liberal reformist leanings, and the ordinary soldiers, who placed a higher premium on the loyalty they had pledged to the sultan. Within the parliament, members of the liberal faction suspected the CUP of authoritarian tendencies and used their access to the press and to European officials—particularly in the British embassy—to undermine the CUP’s position in the lower chamber. From his palace, Abdülhamid II quietly encouraged all elements that challenged the CUP.

On the night of 12–13 April 1909, the enemies of the CUP mounted a counter-revolution. Soldiers of the First Army Corps loyal to Sultan Abdülhamid II mutinied against their officers and made common cause with religious scholars from the capital’s theological colleges. Together they marched on the parliament in a noisy demonstration that drew growing numbers of Islamic scholars and mutinous soldiers overnight. They demanded a new cabinet, banishment of a number of Unionist politicians, and restoration of Islamic law—even though the country had in fact been under a mixed set of legal codes for decades. The Unionist deputies fled the capital, fearing for their lives. The cabinet tendered its resignation. And the sultan opportunistically conceded to the demands of the mob, reasserting his control over the politics of the Ottoman Empire.

Abdülhamid’s restoration proved short-lived. The Ottoman Third Army in Macedonia saw the counter-revolution in Istanbul as an assault on the constitution they believed essential for the empire’s political future. Young Turk loyalists in Macedonia mobilized a campaign force called “the Action Army” to march on Istanbul under the command of Major Ahmed Niyazi, a hero of the Young Turk Revolution. This relief force set out from Salonica for the imperial capital on 17 April. In the early morning hours of 24 April, the Action Army occupied Istanbul, suppressed the revolt with little opposition, and imposed martial law. The two chambers of the Ottoman parliament reconvened as the General National Assembly and on 27 April voted to depose Sultan Abdülhamid II and to install his younger brother Mehmed Reşad as Sultan Mehmed V. With the return of the CUP to power, the counter-revolution was decisively defeated—all within two weeks.

THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION EXPOSED DEEP DIVISIONS WITHIN OTTOMAN society—none more dangerous than the Turkish-Armenian antagonism. Immediately after the Action Army restored the CUP to power in Istanbul, Muslim crowds massacred thousands of Armenians in the south-eastern city of Adana. The roots of the pogrom dated back to the 1870s. In the course of the First World War, that hostility would metastasize into the first genocide of the twentieth century.

In 1909, many Ottoman Turks suspected the Armenians of being a minority community with a nationalist agenda, intent on seceding from the empire. Comprising a distinct ethnic group with its own language and Christian liturgy and centuries of communal organization under the Ottomans as a distinct millet, or faith community, the Armenians had all of the prerequisites for a nineteenth-century nationalist movement bar one: they were not concentrated in one geographic area. As a people they were dispersed between the Russian and Ottoman empires and within Ottoman domains across eastern Anatolia, the Mediterranean coastal regions, and the main trading cities of the empire. The largest concentration of Armenians resided in the capital city, Istanbul. Without a critical mass in one geographical location, the Armenians could never hope to achieve statehood—unless, of course, they could secure the support of a Great Power for their cause.

The Armenians made their first territorial claim at the 1878 Congress of Berlin. As part of the settlement of the Russo-Turkish War, the Ottomans were forced to cede three provinces with sizeable Armenian populations to Russia: Kars, Ardahan, and Batum. The transfer of hundreds of thousands of Armenians to Russian rule provided the context for Armenian demands for greater autonomy within Ottoman domains. The Armenian delegation set out their ambitions, claiming the Ottoman provinces of Erzurum, Bitlis, and Van as the “provinces inhabited by the Armenians”. The delegation sought an autonomous region under a Christian governor on the model of Mount Lebanon, with its volatile mix of Christian and Muslim communities. The European powers responded by including an article in the Treaty of Berlin requiring the Ottoman government to implement immediately such “improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians” and to provide them with security from attack by the Muslim majority. The treaty required Istanbul to report periodically to the European powers on the measures it was taking on behalf of its Armenian citizens.9

European support for Christian nationalist movements in the Balkans had made the Ottomans understandably wary of foreign intentions in other strategic Ottoman domains. The new status accorded by the Treaty of Berlin to Armenian communal aspirations in the Turkish heartlands of Anatolia posed a distinct threat to the Ottoman Empire. Having just surrendered the three provinces of Kars, Ardahan, and Batum to Russia as a war indemnity, the Ottomans could not contemplate ceding further territory in eastern Anatolia. Consequently, Abdülhamid II’s government did all it could to suppress the nascent Armenian movement and its ties to Britain and Russia. When, in the late 1880s, Armenian activists began to form political organizations to pursue their national aspirations, the Ottoman government treated them like any other domestic opposition group and responded with the full range of repressive action—surveillance, arrest, imprisonment, and exile.

Two distinct Armenian nationalist societies emerged at the end of the nineteenth century. A group of Armenian students in Switzerland and France created the Hunchak (Armenian for “bell”) Society in Geneva in 1887. In 1890, a group of activists inside the Russian Empire launched the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, better known as the Dashnak (short for dashnaksutiun, or “federation” in Armenian). They were very different movements, with divergent ideologies and methods. The Hunchaks debated the relative merits of socialism and national liberation, while the Dashnaks promoted self-defence among Armenian communities in both Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Both societies espoused the use of violence to achieve Armenian political aims. They saw themselves as freedom fighters, but the Ottomans branded them terrorists. Activities by the Hunchaks and Dashnaks exacerbated tensions between Muslims and Christians in eastern Anatolia, which the Armenian activists hoped might provoke European intervention and the Ottomans exploited to try to quell what they saw as a nascent nationalist movement. The volatile situation inevitably led to bloodshed.10

Between 1894 and 1896, Ottoman Armenians were the target of a series of terrible massacres. The violence began in the Sasun region of south-eastern Anatolia in the summer of 1894, when Kurdish nomads attacked Armenian villagers for refusing to make the traditional protection payments on top of their tax payments to Ottoman officials. Armenian activists took up the cause of the overtaxed Armenian peasants and encouraged their revolt. British traveller and businessman H. F. B. Lynch, who journeyed through the Sasun region on the eve of the massacres, described the Armenian agitators: “The object of these men is to keep the Armenian cause alive by lighting a flame here and there and calling: Fire! The cry is taken up in the European press; and when people run to look there are sure to be some Turkish officials drawn into the trap and committing abominations.” The Ottoman government dispatched the Fourth Army, reinforced by a Kurdish cavalry regiment, in a bid to restore order. Thousands of Armenians were killed as a result, provoking the European calls for intervention that the Hunchaks actively sought and the Ottomans most wanted to avoid.11


  • "A remarkably readable, judicious and well-researched account of the Ottoman war in Anatolia and the Arab provinces."—Mark Mazower, Financial Times
  • "Rogan has written an impressively sound and fair-minded account of the fall of the Ottoman Empire."—Max Hastings, Sunday Times (UK)
  • "[An] assured account.... The book stands alongside the best histories."—Economist
  • "The book is not only exact and readable but also has the elements of a thriller and thus is all the more remarkable in view of its thoroughness in covering a linguistically and historically difficult subject."—Wall Street Journal
  • "This engrossing history unfolds in the Middle Eastern theatre of the First World War, capturing the complex array of battles, brutalities, and alliances that brought down the six-hundred-year-old Ottoman Empire.... Rogan argues that the empire's ultimate demise was the result not of losing the war but of a clumsily negotiated peace. His balanced narrative unearths many seeds of current conflicts."—New Yorker
  • "Admirable and thoroughly researched.... A comprehensive history of World War I in the Middle East."—New York Review of Books
  • "[An] intricately worked but very readable account of the Ottoman theocracy's demise.... This is an extraordinary tale and Rogan recounts it well."—New York Times
  • "To have written a page-turner as well as an accurate and comprehensive history of the Ottoman struggle for survival is a remarkable achievement."—Wall Street Journal
  • "As the Middle East is collapsing all around us, if you wanted to know where it all began and when, read this great book by a great Oxford historian."—Fareed Zakaria, Fareed Zakaria GPS, Book of the Week
  • "[Rogan's] account is geopolitical and military writing at its best - taut, anecdotal and extraordinarily researched. A tangled story, to be sure, one that both commands and rewards the reader's attention."—Washington Times
  • "A comprehensive, lucid and revealing history.... This book will surely become the definitive history of the war."—The Times (UK)
  • "The Fall of the Ottomans is a remarkably lucid and accessible work of history, involving a large cast of contradictory and complex characters.... Telling quotations from diplomats, field commanders, and ordinary soldiers of all the combatants lend the narrative a powerful sense of immediacy."—The Daily Beast
  • "Eugene Rogan has given us an absorbing history of the war's principal military and political battles in the Middle East through the eyes of those who fought them."—Mustafa Aksakal, chair of Modern Turkish Studies and associate professor of history at Georgetown University
  • "[A] masterly history of the Ottoman empire in its final years.... Eugene Rogan has written a meticulously researched, panoramic and engrossing history. The book is essential reading for understanding the evolution of the modern Middle East and the root causes of nearly all the conflicts that now plague the area. The Fall of the Ottomans is an altogether splendid work of historical writing."—Ali A. Allawi, The Spectator (UK)
  • "A fantastic, readable, and much needed study of the most chronically neglected of all of the Great War's participants: the Ottoman Empire. Informative and enlightening."—Alexander Watson, author of Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I
  • "This is a gripping, masterful account of World War One in the Middle East from the vantage point of the Ottoman Empire.... Combining magisterial scholarship with a keen sense of drama and lively narrative style, it tells a grim story but a fascinating one.... If you want to understand the underlying causes of conflict and violence in the Middle East in the last century, you will not find a better book."—Avi Shlaim, authorof The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
  • "This book opens up a window on vital chapters in the shaping of the Middle East as well as the history of the Great War, bringing together vivid personal details with a broad historical panorama of human suffering and heroism, the incompetence and folly of the general staffs, and the scheming of the great powers."—Rashid Khalidi, authorof Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path inthe Middle East
  • "Thoroughly researched and elegantly written by one of the leading experts on the region, The Fall of the Ottomans reminds us that the 1914-18 conflict was truly a world war with huge and continuing consequences. No one is better equipped than Eugene Rogan to handle the course and impact of the war in the Middle East and he does a superb job, telling a complex and multifaceted story with great clarity, understanding, and compassion. This timely and important work restores the Middle East to its rightful place in the history of the Great War."—Margaret MacMillan, author of The War That Ended Peace: The Road to1914
  • "Thrilling, superb, and colorful, Eugene Rogan's The Fall of the Ottomans is brilliant storytelling. Filled with flamboyant characters, impeccable scholarship that illuminates the neglected Near Eastern theater of WWI--showing how the Ottomans managed repeatedly to defeat the Allies--and revelatory analysis that explains the modern Mideast, The Fall of the Ottomans is truly essential but also truly exciting reading."—Simon Sebag Montefiore, authorof Jerusalem: The Biography

On Sale
Mar 10, 2015
Page Count
512 pages
Basic Books

Eugene Rogan

About the Author

Eugene Rogan is professor of modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Oxford and the director of the Middle East Centre at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. The author of numerous books, including the international bestseller The Fall of the Ottomans, Rogan is the recipient of the Albert Hourani Prize. He lives in Oxford, England.

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