Cover of When the War Came Home by Yiğit Akın
When the War Came Home
The Ottomans' Great War and the Devastation of an Empire
Yiğit Akın

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March 2018
320 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9781503603639
Paper ISBN: 9781503604902

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The Ottoman Empire was unprepared for the massive conflict of World War I. Lacking the infrastructure and resources necessary to wage a modern war, the empire's statesmen reached beyond the battlefield to sustain their war effort. They placed unprecedented hardships onto the shoulders of the Ottoman people: mass conscription, a state-controlled economy, widespread food shortages, and ethnic cleansing. By war's end, few aspects of Ottoman daily life remained untouched.

When the War Came Home reveals the catastrophic impact of this global conflict on ordinary Ottomans. Drawing on a wide range of sources—from petitions, diaries, and newspapers to folk songs and religious texts—Yiğit Akın examines how Ottoman men and women experienced war on the home front as government authorities intervened ever more ruthlessly in their lives. The horrors of war brought home, paired with the empire's growing demands on its people, fundamentally reshaped interactions between Ottoman civilians, the military, and the state writ broadly. Ultimately Akın argues that even as the empire lost the war on the battlefield, it was the destructiveness of the Ottoman state's wartime policies on the home front that led to the empire's disintegration.

About the author

Yiğit Akın is Assistant Professor of History at Tulane University.

"When the War Came Home is an authoritative social history among the many recent works on the Ottoman experience of World War I. Based on an imaginative array of sources, Yiğit Akın portrays meticulously and eloquently the upended lives of civilians and soldiers in the morass of the Middle East's fateful war."

—Hasan Kayali, University of California, San Diego

"Yiğit Akın's treatment of the Ottoman homefront represents a critical breakthrough in the study of the First World War. Drawing upon highly original and interesting archival sources, as well as previously untapped published material, Akin vividly depicts the many hardships faced by Ottoman civilians during the course of the conflict. The book's artful prose make it an engaging read for both students and scholars of the war, adding to its critical value for readers well beyond the field of modern Middle Eastern history."

—Ryan Gingeras, Naval Postgraduate School

"Yiğit Akın has written a pioneering study, examining the long-neglected Ottoman home front during World War I. When the War Came Home illuminates the war's deep social and economic impact on the empire's civilian population."

—Mustafa Aksakal, Georgetown University