Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Ataturk: An Intellectual Biography

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Ataturk: An Intellectual Biography

Article excerpt

Ataturk: An Intellectual Biography. By M. Şükrü Hanioğlu. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013. 296 pp. $19.95, paper.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey has not lacked for biographies. Nonetheless, Hanioğlu's compelling book offers something that most Atatürk literature, particularly in Turkish, has yet to offer. It demythologizes the legendary soldier and politician by illustrating the social, intellectual, and political settings that influenced his ideals and which, in turn, led to the nation state of Turkey.

Hanioğlu presents an intelligent and ambitious leader who studied and was enriched by ideas and techniques formulated by a variety of people on the cutting edge of the political theories of his day. Instead of portraying him one-dimensionally as a man of intellectual miracles, the author objectively analyses Atatürk's thought within complex historical contexts. Atatürk was not the "inventoť' of ideas as other hagiographic biographies suggest. Instead, he was heavily influenced by a wide spectrum of thinkers including Gustave Le Bon, Emile Durkheim, Ludwig Buchner, and even H. …

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