Under the Shadow: Rage and Revolution in Modern Turkey


Under the Shadow: Rage and Revolution in Modern Turkey 

“…it was the perceived destruction of shari’a law through Westernization that first gave way to dissent in the Ottoman empire, whose ideological continuity proved long-lasting and is crucial to understanding the mindset of Turkey’s conservative youth.” 

Disclaimer: ARC courtesy of I.B. Tauris via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

​I have a slight obsession with all things involving foreign affairs. With Turkey in the news lately, I jumped at the opportunity to read this book with a title about rage and revolution. I had some previous background knowledge of the unrest in the area, but I am always looking to increase my knowledge of other countries and the various viewpoints. I do not like to pick sides until I’ve heard varying opinions and I like to understand motivations behind why someone would protest against a power bigger than themselves.

This book focuses on the youth of Turkey, and the actions taken by a handful of people in the wake of protests, and rebellion. The author focuses on various viewpoints of the events unfolding by interviewing local journalists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, etc. I did like the perspective, but was disappointed in how much time was spent on background, and biographical information of the interviewees. I do not need to know about their parent’s backgrounds, but would rather spend time reading about their opinions on what is unfolding and their motivation behind their actions. I would have liked to see a broader population interviewed as well, instead of mainly focusing on the younger citizens of Turkey. The protests are spoken of, but I’m left with more questions than answers on events surrounding the parks and marches on streets and squares. I wish the author had provided more detail, so I would feel as if I’m at the protests, and marching with the people instead of observing from afar the repercussions.

The author does an excellent job of including real reports, and newspaper articles to stress the tension journalists face when reporting what is actually happening. The government utilized the prospect of a coup to lock people up, which led to the highest number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey’s history. Americans tend to take our freedom of speech for granted, whereas other countries are still persecuting citizens who speak their minds, or dare to oppose the government. Another interesting discussion was the discrimination faced by women pursuing academic degrees. A woman can be denied access to a higher degree based on her decision to dress according to her religious beliefs. The thought that women still face this type of discrimination is an embarrassment to our human rights in this century.

The question I’m left asking myself: Do marches, posters, graffiti and chanting really change anything? Is it worth the struggle to try and change? Many people choose to rebel and protest without understanding what is happening, or why they are involved. One of the entrepreneurs interviewed said “According to the analysis of our young friends, protesters didn’t really know what they were there for.” This has led to an interest in American protests and how citizens become involved and take things to the next level with violence and outrage.

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