When the War Came Home: The Ottomans' Great War and the Devastation of an Empire by Yigit Akin
The Ottoman Empire was unprepared for the massive conflict of World War I. Lacking the infrastructure and resources necessary to wage a modern war, the empire's statesmen reached beyond the battlefield to sustain their war effort. They placed unprecedented hardships onto the shoulders of the Ottoman people: mass conscription, a state-controlled economy, widespread food shortages, and ethnic cleansing. By war's end, few aspects of Ottoman daily life remained untouched. When the War Came Home reveals the catastrophic impact of this global conflict on ordinary Ottomans. Drawing on a wide range of sources—from petitions, diaries, and newspapers to folk songs and religious texts—Yiğit Akın examines how Ottoman men and women experienced war on the home front as government authorities intervened ever more ruthlessly in their lives. The horrors of war brought home, paired with the empire's growing demands on its people, fundamentally reshaped interactions between Ottoman civilians, the military, and the state writ broadly. Ultimately, Akın argues that even as the empire lost the war on the battlefield, it was the destructiveness of the Ottoman state's wartime policies on the home front that led to the empire's disintegration.