Cover image for Lords of the horizons : a history of the Ottoman Empire
Lords of the horizons : a history of the Ottoman Empire
Goodwin, Jason, 1964-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, 1998.
Physical Description:
xv, 351 pages : illustrations, 1 map ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A John Macrae book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DR486 .G66 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DR486 .G66 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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.

Author Notes

A historian, journalist and travel writer, Jason Goodwin lives in West Sussex, England, with his wife and two sons. His first book, The Gunpowder Gardens, was short-listed for the Thomas Cook Award; his second, On Foot to the Golden Horn, received the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1993.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

To Christian Europe, the Islamic Ottomans were many things: a menace, an opportunity, suzerains of exotic lands. For 600 years the two civilizations jostled across the Balkans and adjoining seas, and Goodwin's evocative account affects the ambivalent mood that permeated that coexistence. He relies lightly on chronological narrative, as events from different decades or even centuries unite in the same paragraph. Instead he organizes his story around themes, for example, the upbringing of future sultans (one of whose ritual titles was "Lord of the Horizons") or the institution of the janissaries, the backbone of the empire's army. A dreamy, languorous Eastern effect results from this approach. Consonant with the last two centuries of the empire's decline following its territorial apogee in 1683, the sense of institutional inactivity dominates Goodwin's story, otherwise empathetic with the Ottoman culture, curvaceous in its architecture, indeterminate in its purposes. A history of distinctive originality, Goodwin's account imbibes deeply of traveler's impressions and seeks to see and describe, rather than explain and judge. A valuable synthesis. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this elegant work, British author Goodwin (On Foot to the Golden Horn) combines deft historical summary with the buoyant prose and idiosyncratic focus of the best travel writing. The combination enables him to take the full measure of a realm riddled with paradox. The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish empire most of whose shock troops were Balkan Slavs; a bellicose state that expanded by war, it often governed its conquests with a light handÄa necessary approach given the many cultures and nationalities that fell under Ottoman rule. Ottoman society at its best was civilized and tolerant, observes Goodwin. The Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 were warmly received in Salonika, Constantinople, Belgrade and Sofia. While war and superstition ruled Christian Europe, the Islamic Ottoman Empire thrived and glittered with mathematical, architectural and artistic accomplishment. Goodwin is marvelous at describing how, for three hundred years before its final collapse after WWI, the empire survived even though it was perpetually on the verge of collapse. 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. As good as Goodwin is at blending political, cultural and military affairs, his work is distinguished by stylish writing and a sharp eye for just the right anecdote. His epilogue, which is built around the fate of the empire's famous stray dogs, is at once amusing and strangely, beautifully moving. Illustrations. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

British travel writer Goodwin, whose previous books include A Time for Tea (1991. o.p.) and On Foot to the Golden Horn (1995. o.p.), explores the long and tumultuous history of the Ottoman Empire, examining the political upheavals and military actions that continually engaged the empire. Goodwin also reveals many fascinating details of daily life: e.g., common people would insert waste paper into the cracks of walls, believing the paper would protect their feet on the fiery path to heaven. The most absorbing chapter concerns the defeat of the Ottomans in Vienna in 1683, presenting in lively style the events leading up to that crucial battle. This volume is comparable to Andrew Wheatcroft's The Ottomans (LJ 4/15/94) and belongs in academic and larger public libraries.ÄNorman Malwitz, Queens Borough P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Map of the Ottoman Empirep. viii
Prologuep. xi
Part I Curves and Arabesques
1. Originsp. 3
2. The Balkansp. 12
3. Thunderboltp. 22
4. The Siegep. 29
5. The Centrep. 44
6. The Palacep. 50
7. Warp. 65
8. Suleyman the Magnificentp. 79
9. Orderp. 90
10. Citiesp. 110
11. The Seap. 121
12. Rhythmsp. 130
Part II The Turkish Time
13. The Turkish Timep. 149
14. Stalematep. 158
15. The Cagep. 164
16. The Spiralp. 173
17. The Empirep. 185
Part III Hoards
18. Hoardsp. 209
19. Koprulu and Viennap. 221
20. Austria and Russiap. 237
21. Ayanp. 245
22. Shammingp. 256
23. Borderlandsp. 269
24. The Auspicious Eventp. 289
25. The Bankruptp. 301
Epiloguep. 322
Ottoman Sultansp. 327
An Ottoman Chronologyp. 329
Glossaryp. 334
Bibliographyp. 337
Acknowledgmentsp. 342
Indexp. 343