I stumbled upon the Turkish graphic novel “Genç Mustafa”, “The young Mustafa” written by Yalın Alpay and illustrated by Bariş Keşoğlu. The book is about Atatürk’s time as young soldier at the Ottoman military college in Istanbul in 1900. Atatürk’s personality cult may seem strange and exaggerated to all non-Turks. I often think it is nothing more than a facade that people only follow by habit, they don’t really care what’s behind. But Atatürk’s political achievements cannot be denied and his then modern western ideas are still valid today.
The book depicts Mustafa’s early life from five different points of view. I liked this approach and the books statement, that there is no general truth about what happened in the past. Even at an early age he was interested in philosophy and he knew that the Ottoman Empire could not survive. With some likeminded friends he founded a kind of secret society that planned the abolishment of the sultanate. Apart from the political backgrounds there are some interesting details about the life in the old Istanbul, the education of the elite class at that time and Atatürk’s contact with religion and alcohol.
„Genç Mustafa“ is only published in Turkish. Although I had to look up many military/politics/history related words it was quite easy to read because of the illustrations. I wonder if the book is received well by the young Turks who are mostly interested in consumption.
Some more information on the book on www.gencmustafa.com with some press articles.Thursday, January 6th, 2011
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