Book Review: Ottoman Army Effectiveness in World War I: A Comparative Study


by Edward J. Erickson

New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2007. xiv, 236. Maps, tables, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $125.00. ISBN:0415770998


This work challenges the long-held notion that the Ottoman Army was an ineptly led, poorly organized force, its victories usually the result of Allied errors and German advisors, and the raw courage of the Turkish soldier. It makes an excellent case.

Opening with a look at the Turkish response to the disastrous outcome of the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), Prof. Erickson points out that this sparked a thorough reform of the army?s organization, training, and leadership. These wars also provided the Turks with a cadre of veterans at all levels, something lacking in the ranks of the largely Commonwealth forces that would soon oppose them. 

The German military mission is then examined, and essentially dismissed. Despite getting most of the credit for Ottoman success, German advisors actually began arriving much too late to influence the Turkish army before the empire entered the war, were never available in consequential numbers, and often offered advice that Turkish officers, such as Mustafa Kemal,  knew was poor and ignored. 

Erickson then examines Ottoman performance in four campaigns, two without (Gallipoli and Kut-al-Amara), and two with (Gaza-Beersheba and Megiddo) German advisors. By making extensive use of Turkish archives, hitherto overlooked or unavailable, the book makes an excellent case that the Ottoman Army was a far more capable force than has generally been assumed.

Ottoman Army Effectiveness in World War I: A Comparative Study , by Edward J. Erickson. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2007. Pp. xiv, 236. Maps, tables, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $125.00. ISBN: 978-0-415-77099-6.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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