Every generation since the founding of the Republic of Turkey has studied the same map of the country at their desks in elementary school. According to this map, Turkey was the biggest country in the world and, naturally, in the very middle. It stood as a colossus in the midst of our founding father Atatürk’s pledges: “Turk, be proud, work and trust!” and “Happy is the man who calls himself a Turk!” Europe hovered “above”, full of colour. Inside the spectral countries were cities with pretty names and rivers of bright blue. Our forefathers praised this Eldorado as the ideal goal. “Below” was the East. The East was always grey-yellow in colour. Like the USSR, it resembled a desert or a rough, hazy void. The cities were marked haphazardly. In this incarnation, the map said:

“Don’t look down or to the right, look up. Above is a colourful and vivacious life. There is nothing below other than ‘the dirty Arabs’ and camels. There is nothing worthy of your curiosity. Get yourself out of there and run towards the West as fast as your feet can carry you.”


“Temelkuran walks us along a hazardous, unsanctioned route from modern Turkey’s founding in 1923, its history of military coups to the agenda and modus operandi of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Along the road she astutely unpicks politically-led tendencies that resonate globally, including a cultural rejection of learning and expertise, and the construction of the Other as a source of fear. Her no-punches-pulled analysis and resonant anecdotes read like an essential primer for interpreting the next chapter in the country’s unfolding history.”

Hettie Judah, Frieze magazine.


“Temelkuran has written a primer for today’s chaos, a masterclass in expecting the unexpected.”

Financial Times

A wonderful book that gives a fascinating if frightening insight into the reasons why Turkey is becoming an authoritarian state. It gives an engrossing and intimate sense of the impact this development has on every aspect of life.’

Patrick Cockburn author of The Rise of Islamic State

‘Ece Temelkuran is a patriot – no other word will do.’

Seymour Hersh author of The Killing of Osama Bin Laden

‘What a brave woman! And what a fine, stylish and intelligent writer! Mixing sarcasm, anger, wit, and irony as well as hard facts, Ece Temelkuran has provided us with an informative and moving account of Turkey’s seemingly inexorable drift into authoritarianism.’

Donald Sassoon author of The Culture of the Europeans