New Book: The First of the Modern Ottomans

The First of the Modern Ottomans: The Intellectual History of Ahmed Vâsıf 

By Ethan L. Menchinge (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The First of the Modern Ottomans blends biography with intellectual history. On the one hand, it is the story of an Ottoman life – the life of the scribe, ambassador, and prolific historian Ahmed Vâsıf (ca. 1735-1806), a man who improbably rose from obscurity in Baghdad to travel the empire, fight its wars, advise its sultans, and, in time, write its history. As a full-scale biography, the book is a rarity for the field of Ottoman history and reconstructs Vâsıf’s life, career, and opinions through meticulous research in both Ottoman and European sources. On the other hand, The First of the Modern Ottomans is also one of the first detailed intellectual studies of the early modern Ottoman Empire. Weaving together Vâsıf’s life and thought with the larger intellectual currents of his day – especially at the court of Sultan Selim III in Istanbul – it explores central debates among the Ottoman ruling elite over Europe, political reform, war and peace, justice, and the empire’s renewal. Vâsıf’s life reveals a vital response to the empire’s challenges at the turn of the nineteenth century – one that was novel and deeply enmeshed in Islamic philosophy, ethics, and statecraft.

For more information, please see CUP’s webpage.


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  • #ISIH2022 Conference

    #ISIH2022 Conference

    #ISIH2022 Our 2022 Conference will take place in Venice, 12-15 Sept.