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New Cagaptay Book Chronicles Turkey’s Growth

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Washington Institute Expert Shows Country’s Evolution into Majority-Middle-Class, Muslim-Ruled Power

WASHINGTON – As turmoil roils the ruling party of Recep Tayyep Erdogan, a new book by Washington Institute expert Soner Cagaptay documents the Turkish prime minister’s efforts to transform his country from an economically disadvantaged secular state into the world’s first majority-middle-class, Muslim-ruled nation. The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty First Century’s First Muslim Power, published by Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press, is available online.

In this volume, Dr. Cagaptay, the Institute’s Beyer Family Fellow and the director of its Turkish Research Program, shows how Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) have expanded Turkey’s trade, diplomatic outreach, and cultural exports during an unprecedented ten years in power. The embattled premier has asserted Turkish influence in high-stakes, high-profile foreign issues from Gaza, to Egypt, to Syria, often breaking ranks with NATO allies. Turkish citizens will be able to pass judgment on Erdogan’s tenure during local and national elections in March and June respectively.

Structured as a travelogue, each chapter of The Rise of Turkey opens on a different Turkish city and captures a theme of the country’s transformation. From the Kurdish issue to foreign policy, the book argues that Turkey needs to successfully balance its Muslim identity with its Western overlay in order to solidify its position as a regional and global power. The book also puts Turkey’s development into a broader, global context: How does Turkey’s success align with the rise of the BRICS nations? What lessons may be learned about Islam’s role in 21st century international politics?

The book has earned praise from foreign affairs experts of both U.S. political parties.  “For anyone interested in the complex developments that are reshaping Turkey, Dr. Cagaptay’s insightful new book is the place to start,” says Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “Dr. Cagaptay peels back the many layers that make Turkey such a fascinating and important country. With his deep understanding of Turkey, he is able to explore the political, cultural, and economic factors that have shaped its remarkable history and that may foreshadow its future,” says Joseph Lieberman, former senator from Connecticut.

A historian by training, Dr. Cagaptay wrote his doctoral dissertation at Yale University on Turkish nationalism. He has taught courses on the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe at Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, and Smith. In 2006-2007, he was Ertegun Professor at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies. His work is published in scholarly journals and major international print media such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. In addition, he has been a regular columnist for and Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s oldest and most influential English-language paper. He appears regularly on NPR, PBS, CNN and other international media.