CHANGING TURKEY - on July 8, 2015
Professor Şükrü Hanioğlu began his career in Istanbul University as a political scientist and wrote his doctoral thesis on the Ottoman intellectual Abdullah Cevdet. It was then published and received moderately good reviews except from the pen of Cemil Meriç, himself an intellectual and man of letters of some distinction. Writing about Hanioğlu’s thesis later published as a book, Cemil Meriç wrote: “I got no pleasure from the doctoral thesis on Abdullah Cevdet. It is an extremely ordinary and insipid book. Based on police reports it is like a bad police novel. The writer knows neither the language nor does he understand Cevdet’s language. Those who supervised his thesis were also totally ignorant….” . I do hope that Cemil Meriç would have been kinder and appreciative of Hanioğlu’s later works.
Since writing his thesis, Hanioğlu’s years at Princeton University have matured him into a scholar of some repute. There he reinvented himself as a historian and shifted his attention to what is becoming a multi-volume biography of the Young Turk movement, having completed two volumes so far. The first volume published in 1995 covered the years 1889, the founding of the Committee of Union and Progress, to the Paris congress of 1902. Volume two, published in 2001, covered the years 1902 –1908 when “the Young Turks prepared for the revolution”. I expected to see the publication of the next volume, perhaps two volumes on the Young Turks revolution and the constitutional period 1908-1918. But he seems to have decided to leapfrog that decade and write the book under review .