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Atatürk’s creation

The creation of the Turkish state was one of the most remarkable acts of political will in the 20th century. What about the man who did it?

By David Fromkin   July 2000

Can traditional cultures break with the past and join modern civilisation? Ought they to do so? And at what price? Can a leader persuade or force his nation to make so drastic a change? Questions such as these were brought to the rest of the planet by the Europeans who explored, invaded, and settled the other continents after 1492. Half a millennium later, we are still looking for answers.

One thing seems clear. It is the apparent truth, charmingly illustrated in Anna and the King of Siam: that a people cannot be made modern or western by the fiat of…

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