Out at the End of the Year

Under the Shadow: Rage and Revolution in Modern Turkey - Kaya Genç

Disclaimer: ARC courtesy of I.B. Tauris via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


                What makes a movement?  What leads to protest?  Why do some people who seem sympathetic to a movement yet not join a protest?   These basic questions are not just confined to the political situation in any country, yet Genc uses the basic questions to shield more light on the protest movement in Turkey, and in particular those young people behind it.


                For the average American who has no real connection to Turkey, most of the news about the country is limited to sound bites on the news, and the average American international news broadcast is pretty bad.  When the recent coup attempt happened, it made the nightly news and CNN broadcasted heavily for a bit, but outside of mentioning where the accused coup inspirer lives, nothing.  Very little about the arrests that occurred after.  When the protests were occurring in Taksim square, there was very little context.   Genc’s book does something to readdress this for the American public.


                Genc’s book is more a series of profiles and interviews with people –ranging from student protests to business men, to filmmakers, to journalists.  The topics include the protests at Taskim but also the closure of magazines and other forms of censorship.  Because of timing, the book obvious could not examine the most recent coup attempt, though Genc’s introduction does include it.


                One of the book’s strengths is the use of the interviewees.  While the book does start with an interview of a protestor in Taskim square, Genc includes an interview with those who chose not to join the protest or even saw it as little more than a protest of the middle class.  This allows the reader into the varying and conflicting political views.  Perhaps the most telling is the chapter concerning the filmmaker Evrenol and his experience of censorship, a story that does make one think.


                There is also a discussion about the police officers, in particular the actions of the police during the protests combined with the police in everyday life.  In some ways this section shows that conflicting views are sometimes simply conflicting views and speaks to the human condition.


                Genc is aware of her book use as a starting point for trying to understand Turkish politics.  She includes a further reading list at the end of the book so the reader can further her knowledge.