Date of this Version
European History Quarterly, July 2013, vol. 43 no. 3, pp 532-534. doi: 10.1177/0265691413493729h
The ‘Eastern Question’, coined by European powers in the nineteenth century, came to denote the diplomatic and political problems posed by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The historiography on the Eastern Question has been mostly Eurocentric, addressing the diplomatic history of the Eastern Question without taking into consideration the Eastern actors of the Question, that is, the Muslim Turks. One of the major actors to emerge during the height of the Eastern Question was a group known as the Young Ottomans who became extremely critical of the Tanzimat reforms in general and the Ottoman Porte’s handling of the Eastern Question in particular. Nazan Çiçek’s The Young Ottomans aims at providing a fresh analysis of the Eastern Question from the perspective of the Young Ottoman opposition. By situating them in the context of the Eastern Question, Çiçek aims at diverting the discussion away from the ‘rather overexamined ideological affiliations of the Young Ottomans towards their inadequately analysed assessments of and conviction about some controversial issues’ (10). These controversial issues include the Cretan insurrection of 1866– 69 (which was a watershed for the formation of the Young Ottoman movement) (76), the crisis in the relationship between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in the nineteenth century coupled with the economic ascendancy of the latter, the increasing foreign intervention in the affairs of the Empire, and the dire financial situation of the Empire. In addition, the book sheds new light on the relationship between the Young Ottomans and the Turcophile British Orientalist group, the Urquhartities.