The Ottoman Endgame
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The Ottoman Endgame

War, Revolution and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908-1923

By Sean McMeekin

I don't remember learning much (if anything) about the Ottoman Empire in school history lessons, so this book was definitely an interesting read. I guess it's easier to focus on the Western front where you don't have to have an uncomfortable discussion with 13 year olds about the very real human costs of British (not to forget French, Russian and Italian) imperialism.

The story of the downfall of the Ottoman Empire is one that's bathed in blood, with no country able to hold any sort of moral superiority as all were guilty of acts of genocide. Rough estimates in The Ottoman Endgame claim that the population of the empire went from ~21 million in 1911 to below 17 million by 1923. It's estimated that the mortality rates in the empire were close to ~20%, a staggering figure compared to the estimated 3.5% mortality rate in France (France having the second highest number of deaths per capita during the first World War, second to the Ottoman Empire).

It's no surprise that even close to a century later, we're still left reeling at the crises that've been caused by Western imperialism in the regions that were once part of the Ottoman Empire.

If, like me, you were never taught this in school, I highly recommend reading The Ottoman Endgame.