A summer reading list of Ottoman history in English

A well-prepared summer reading list is a must to have a good time whether on a beach or sitting on a balcony on a weekend day. Here are some recommendations from Turkish and international authors on Ottoman history

The Ottoman Empire, which was populated by more than 30 million in habitants and reigned from the 1300’s to 1914 and World War I and existed on three continents in a geographical area spanning from the borders of Hungary to the North African coast, was an era of epic proportions and thus it should come as no surprise that the details of the history itself is full of countless tales of power plays, battles intrigue, conspiracies, deceptions and revenge, which ultimately leads to great reading material.

‘The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600’

From Eunuchs to caged would-be sultans, this two-volume series are divided into four chronicle sections each written by a leading authority that delves into the social and economic history of the Ottoman Empire. This is the most accessible of Halil İnalcık’s body of edited work that also includes “Turkey and Europe in History” and the “History of Humanity,” part of UNESCO’s General and Regional Histories Collection.


‘Discovering the Ottomans’

İlber Ortaylı is another leading Turkish historian and a prolific writer of approachable history books on the subject. This 2010 release is an excellent introduction to the history, lifestyles and values of the Ottoman Empire.


‘A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire’

Penned by M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, a Turkish professor of late Ottoman history at Princeton University, this book presents a concise history of the final era of this epic empire and discusses the trends that contributed to its downfall.

“The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire” veering from Turkish scholars, this substantial body of work on the history of the Ottoman Empire was penned in 1977 by Lord Kinross, a Scottish historian noted for his biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his authority on Islamic history. Providing as good a read as a definitive history of the era that happens to be dense with intrigue: economic, political and social.


‘Osman’s Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire’

Penned by a British historian based in Turkey, this is a more general reader-friendly account of the epic story of the Ottoman Empire from start to finish by someone who is extremely familiar with the subject. An entertaining and informative read, “Osman’s Dream” is also more regularly available in reputable bookstores in Turkey.


‘The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire’

Released in 1993 by the Oxford University Press and written by Leslie P. Pierce, a history professor at New York University, this informative and captivating account deals less with the romantic goings on in the harem and more with the power plays in place amongst the sultans, eunuchs, concubines, wives and Queen mothers.


Daily Sabah