The Muslim Bonaparte: (Princeton Modern Greek Studies)

Diplomacy and Orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece

005d44ef_medium Author K. E. Fleming
Isbn 9780691001944
File size 13MB
Year 1999
Pages 216
Language English
File format PDF
Category Biography

Book Description:

The book is a good reading, however Fleming puts Ali Pasha much more in a Greek context rather than in an Albanian one. It seems that the Greek factor is overly emphasized as to attract more attention to the story of Ali Pasha. My trips in the area show that Ali Pasha is much more present among Albanians than Greeks. Yet my kudos go to the author for exploring such an intriguing figure as Ali Pasha.

My two brief stays in Ioannina whetted my curiosity about the almost legendary figure who governed Epirus with an iron hand in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and I figured it would be great to read all about the cruel Turkish despot who had five hundred women and fifty young boys and who personally murdered his son's mistress in the middle of the lake. But, alas, Ali was not Turkish but Albanian. He was not appointed by the Sultan but just took over the government. He clearly did not regard himself as a vassal of the Sultan but, like his Egyptian counterpart, Mehmet Ali, looked more to the west for recognition and reaffirmation, playing off the French and the British against each other. This is actually a book about historiography rather than history and it deals with questions like how reliable the sources are and what kind of arguments are most productive for understanding the subject, and at times the reader gets the feeling that the author's dissertation advisor is looking over someone's shoulder. As Fleming sees it, the greatest obstacle to real understanding of Ali Pasha is the orientalizing tendency of the the primary sources, mostly British and French travel writings that tried to provide Europeans with a glimpse of what a Turkish despot was like. So, even though I was looking for lurid anecdotes, Fleming's approach to Ali and his times is more intelligent and more enlightening. In fact, this is an excellent book that should be read by anyone interested in the modern history of Greece and the Balkans. We can get our scandalous stories elsewhere.



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