Obituary – Farewell to Andrew Mango with a Heavy Heart: A True Friend and a Distinguished Scholar

Obituary – Farewell to Andrew Mango with a Heavy Heart:
A True Friend and a Distinguished Scholar

How did the renowned academic and writer Dr. Andrew Mango come to choose Turkey as a field of study?  Born in Istanbul and fluent in Turkish, it seems studying Turkey would be a straightforward choice for Mango.  However, the answer is more detailed and all the more fascinating as a result.  Mango, in a 2012 interview with the Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey), said improving the public’s understanding was his goal.  “My impression was always that the country was not sufficiently well understood, explained and described; that descriptions of Turkey tended to be cliché-ridden,” Mango said.  Following this realization, Mango would go on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and to publish numerous books on Turkish politics and history.  Mango’s academic work stands out in part because of this unique background – what he calls an “outsider-insider” dynamic.  As an author and analyst, Mango has distinguished himself in his scholarly writing on contemporary Turkey.

Mango began his career working in media.  He spent years covering world news with the BBC External Service.  Fluent in Turkish, Mango was the chief of BBC Turkish broadcasting from 1958 to 1972 and was the head of the BBC’s South European Service from 1972 until 1986.  In this role, Mango was able to experience what he describes as a broad change from growing up among the general population of Istanbul to interacting with Turkey’s intellectual elite.  As a journalist, Mango says he “had years of working with Turkish journalists in BBC, prominent Turkish journalists, Turkish intellectuals, and Turkish poets like Can Yücel.”

Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey, Mango’s groundbreaking 1999 biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was praised for its clear-eyed portrayal of the founder of contemporary Turkey.  Additionally, Turkish reviewers like Dr. Yücel Güçlü have noted that Mango’s biography may be the single best English-language book on Atatürk for the way it uses various sources rather than merely relying on merely a few sources of dubious quality or significance.  “Mango’s reflective life-sized portrait is based largely on published Turkish sources, which until now have never been adequately checked, compared and collated,” Güçlü writes.

Furthermore, the vast majority of material Mango drew upon when writing Atatürk is in Turkish, another testament to his Turkish translation and writing skills, which are undoubtedly rare among non-Turkish historians.  In his interview with Research Turkey, Mango said that he tried, in his biography of Atatürk, to consciously compare the various biographies that had been written in order to review the subjects on which they agreed and disagreed.  Güçlü’s review confirms Mango’s success in this area. “Mango is fully conversant with the large secondary literature on Atatürk and the views of recent admirers and detractors,” Güçlü  writes.  “The author is at the same time well acquainted with Turkish biographers’ works on Atatürk and thoughtfully compares his own interpretations with theirs.” As Christopher de Bellaigue writes in the New York Review of Books, “Mango’s work will surely become the standard biography because it gives a detailed and convincing account of Turkish life both under Atatürk and before him.”

Mango has also written on other topics of contemporary Turkey, both in general and specific works.  The Turks Today (2004) covers Turkish politics and events since Atatürk in a broad scope, whereas Mango’s most recent work is quite detailed.  In From the Sultan to Atatürk (2010), Mango covers the end of World War I as well as the Turkish War of Independence.  Finally, as an active commentator on Turkish politics, Mango holds strong opinions on Turkish foreign policy and how Turkey should move forward with the European Union.

A full list of Mango’s bibliography is as follows:

  • Turkey. New Nations and Peoples series. Thames and Hudson, 1968.
  • Discovering Turkey. London: B.T. Batsford, 1971.
  • Turkey: A Delicately Poised Ally. Included in Washington Papers series. Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1975.
  • Turkey: The Challenge of a New Role. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1994.
  • Atatürk. London: John Murray, 1999.
  • The Turks Today. New York: Overlook Press, 2004.
  • Turkey and the War on Terror: For Forty Years We Fought Alone. London: Routledge, 2005.
  • From the Sultan to Atatürk. Included inMakers of the Modern World series. London: Haus Publishing, 2009.

Notable interviews and lectures given by Dr. Mango include the following:

  • Brookes, Julian. Interview with Andrew Mango. Mother Jones. Mother Jones, 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2005.
  • Mango, Andrew. “Atatürk Today: Acceptance Speech.” Atatürk Society of America. Turkish Embassy, Washington D.C., U.S.A. 26 Oct. 2003.
  • Mango, Andrew. “Misunderstanding Turkey.” Atatürk Society of America. London. Oct. 2003.
  • Mango, Andrew. “Atatürk in His Lifetime and Today.” Atatürk Society of America. 24 Sep. 2000.
  • Research Turkey. Interview with Dr. Andrew Mango. “Turkey’s Walk from 1923 to 2023: A Critique of Past and Recent Political Challenges”, Vol. I, Issue 6, pp.6-15, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey), London, Research Turkey. 3 Aug. 2012.

A member of Research Turkey’s Advisory Board, Mango brings to our institution and to all researchers and readers, a legacy of insightful research and writing on topics in modern Turkish history.  His keen observations of contemporary Turkey are the result of his unique personal, academic, and professional background, as well as the decades he has spent researching the subject.  No matter what question is asked of Mango, one will certainly receive a well-reasoned answer from an academic and historian who has a remarkable “outsider-insider” perspective.

As a true friend, and a distinguished scholar, Andrew Mango has never been an outsider in Turkey, at least within the hearts of Turkish people.  It is very difficult for us to console ourselves for the loss of a dear friend, and to share our condolences and profound feelings. We would like to send our condolences and express our deepest sympathies to his relatives, friends, colleagues, and readers. May Andrew rest in peace. He will be missed very much.

Ümit Sönmez, Editor-in-Chief, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey)

Please cite this publication as follows:

Sönmez Ü. (July, 2014), “Obituary – Farewell to Andrew Mango with a Heavy Heart: A True Friend and a Distinguished Scholar”, Vol. III, Issue 7, pp.6-10, Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, ResearchTurkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=6534)

Works Cited

De Bellaigue, Christopher, “Turkey’s Hidden Past,” The New York Review of Books, Vol. 48, No. 4 (March 8, 2001) (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2001/mar/08/turkeys-hidden-past/?insrc=toc).

Güçlü, Yücel. “Atatürk.” Review of Atatürk, by Andrew Mango. Center for Strategic Research (December 2000 – February 2001) (http://sam.gov.tr/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/YucelGucluBookReview.pdf).

Research Turkey. “Interview with Andrew Mango: Turkey’s Walk from 1923 to 2023: A Critique of Past and Recent Political Challenges”, Vol. I, Issue 6, pp.6-15, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey), London: Research Turkey (August 3, 2012) (http://researchturkey.org/?p=1540).

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