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Turkey’s July 15th Coup: What Happened and Why

Evaluating an edited book written by twelve authors with significantly different points of view on one of the most critical events of recent Turkish political history in a brief book review, is a daunting task if not an impossible mission.

 

Evaluating an edited book written by twelve authors with significantly different points of view on one of the most critical events of recent Turkish political history in a brief book review, is a daunting task if not an impossible mission. Each chapter provides additional critical facts and a different perspective, often combined with a different temporal lens, in understanding what happened; a few of the chapters also venture into explaining why it happened, and they provide different answers or interpretations regarding the causes and the consequences of the coup and its failure. Thus, it would not be possible to critically review twelve chapters written by different authors with different arguments as if there were a single argument, methodology, or opinion that they share. Nonetheless, put together, these twelve chapters provide sufficient empirical and theoretical material to critically evaluate the goals, the structure, and the evolution of the “Gülen movement,” “Hizmet,” or the “Gülenists” as different authors variably refer to them, and the role of the Gülenists in the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. There is a partial mismatch between the title of the book and its content, since three of the twelve chapters (by Balcı, Çobanoğlu, and Dohrn) do not discuss the coup attempt at all. These three chapters are about the Gülenists in general or their activities in specific locations such as post-Soviet Republics or Tanzania, and yet Gülen(ism) does not appear in the title or the subtitle of the book.

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