2019 Shortlisted Titles

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Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire
BY ANNE F. BROADBRIDGE
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

How did women contribute to the rise of the Mongol Empire while Mongol men were conquering Eurasia? This book positions women in their rightful place in the otherwise well-known story of Chinggis Khan (commonly known as Genghis Khan) and his conquests and empire. Examining the best known women of Mongol society, such as Chinggis Khan's mother, Hö'elün, and senior wife, Börte, as well as those who were less famous but equally influential, including his daughters and his conquered wives, we see the systematic and essential participation of women in empire, politics and war. Anne F. Broadbridge also proposes a new vision of Chinggis Khan's well-known atomized army by situating his daughters and their husbands at the heart of his army reforms, looks at women's key roles in Mongol politics and succession, and charts the ways the descendants of Chinggis Khan's daughters dominated the Khanates that emerged after the breakup of the Empire in the 1260s.

The Chief Eunuch of the Ottoman Harem: From African Slave to Power-Broker
By Jane Hathaway
Cambridge University Press

Eunuchs were a common feature of pre- and early modern societies that are now poorly understood. Here, Jane Hathaway offers an in-depth study of the chief of the African eunuchs who guarded the harem of the Ottoman Empire. A wide range of primary sources are used to analyze the Chief Eunuch's origins in East Africa and his political, economic, and religious role from the inception of his office in the late sixteenth century through the dismantling of the palace harem in the early twentieth century. Hathaway highlights the origins of the institution and how the role of eunuchs developed in East Africa, as well as exploring the Chief Eunuch's connections to Egypt and Medina. By tracing the evolution of the office, we see how the Chief Eunuch's functions changed in response to transformations in Ottoman society, from the generalized crisis of the seventeenth century to the westernizing reforms of the nineteenth century.

 

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UNEVEN CENTURIES: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF TURKEY SINCE 1820 BY SEVKET PAMUK
princeton university press

 

The first comprehensive history of the Turkish economy The population and economy of the area within the present-day borders of Turkey has consistently been among the largest in the developing world, yet there has been no authoritative economic history of Turkey until now. In Uneven Centuries, Sevket Pamuk examines the economic growth and human development of Turkey over the past two hundred years. Taking a comparative global perspective, Pamuk investigates Turkey's economic history through four periods: the open economy during the nineteenth-century Ottoman era, the transition from empire to nation-state that spanned the two world wars and the Great Depression, the continued protectionism and import-substituting industrialization after World War II, and the neoliberal policies and the opening of the economy after 1980. Making use of indices of GDP per capita, trade, wages, health, and education, Pamuk argues that Turkey's long-term economic trends cannot be explained only by immediate causes such as economic policies, rates of investment, productivity growth, and structural change. Uneven Centuries offers a deeper analysis of the essential forces underlying Turkey's development-its institutions and their evolution-to make better sense of the country's unique history and to provide important insights into the patterns of growth in developing countries during the past two centuries.

The World in a Book Al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition

by Elias Muhanna
princeton university press

Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri was a fourteenth-century Egyptian polymath and the author of one of the greatest encyclopedias of the medieval Islamic world—a thirty-one-volume work entitled The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition. A storehouse of knowledge, this enormous book brought together materials on nearly every conceivable subject, from cosmology, zoology, and botany to philosophy, poetry, ethics, statecraft, and history. Composed in Cairo during the golden age of Islamic encyclopedic activity, the Ultimate Ambition was one of hundreds of large-scale compendia, literary anthologies, dictionaries, and chronicles produced at this time—an effort that was instrumental in organizing the archive of medieval Islamic thought.

In the first study of this landmark work in a European language, Elias Muhanna explores its structure and contents, sources and influences, and reception and impact in the Islamic world and Europe. He sheds new light on the rise of encyclopedic literature in the learned cities of the Mamluk Empire and situates this intellectual movement alongside other encyclopedic traditions in the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment periods. He also uncovers al-Nuwayri’s world: a scene of bustling colleges, imperial chanceries, crowded libraries, and religious politics.

Based on award-winning scholarship, The World in a Book opens up new areas in the comparative study of encyclopedic production and the transmission of knowledge.

Elias Muhanna is the Manning Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. He is the editor and translator of an abridged version of al-Nuwayri’s The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Penguin) and the editor of The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies.

 

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Christian Martyrs under Islam
by christian c. sahner
princeton University Press

 

How did the medieval Middle East transform from a majority-Christian world to a majority-Muslim world, and what role did violence play in this process? Christian Martyrs under Islam explains how Christians across the early Islamic caliphate slowly converted to the faith of the Arab conquerors and how small groups of individuals rejected this faith through dramatic acts of resistance, including apostasy and blasphemy.

Using previously untapped sources in a range of Middle Eastern languages, Christian Sahner introduces an unknown group of martyrs who were executed at the hands of Muslim officials between the seventh and ninth centuries CE. Found in places as diverse as Syria, Spain, Egypt, and Armenia, they include an alleged descendant of Muhammad who converted to Christianity, high-ranking Christian secretaries of the Muslim state who viciously insulted the Prophet, and the children of mixed marriages between Muslims and Christians. Sahner argues that Christians never experienced systematic persecution under the early caliphs, and indeed, they remained the largest portion of the population in the greater Middle East for centuries after the Arab conquest. Still, episodes of ferocious violence contributed to the spread of Islam within Christian societies, and memories of this bloodshed played a key role in shaping Christian identity in the new Islamic empire.

Christian Martyrs under Islam examines how violence against Christians ended the age of porous religious boundaries and laid the foundations for more antagonistic Muslim-Christian relations in the centuries to come.

Christian C. Sahner is associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Oxford and a fellow of St Cross College. He is the author of Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present.

 

WELCOME TO HELL?
BY JOHN MCMANUS
ORION PUBLISHING

Ask a British football fan what they know about Turkish football, and they are unlikely to describe scenes of camaraderie, hospitality and humour. They are more likely to mention banners proclaiming ‘Welcome to hell’. Or Leeds United supporters stabbed to death on an Istanbul street.

Frustrated by the game’s distorted image back home, John McManus set out to show the Turkish football that he knew – the rich, funny, obsessive, fan culture that he had encountered on the terraces. But he hadn’t accounted for the politics. Travelling from the elite training facilities of Istanbul to dusty pitches on the Syrian border, taking in visits to far-flung clubs, encounters with characterful players and experiences at riotous matches along the way, Welcome to Hell? offers a unique perspective on an alluring yet troubled football culture.