"The Crescent and the Eagle" examines the awakening of Albanian national identity from the end of the 19th century to the outbreak of the First World War - a period of intense nationalism in the Balkans - from an Ottoman perspective. Drawing on Ottoman and European archival material, the book undermines the customary negative stereotypes of Ottoman rule, offering a more nuanced interpretation. Gawrych provides a critical but objective examination of the evolution of government policies toward Albanians, from attempts to mould them into an "iron barrier" to the establishment of a uniform system of administration. He argues that this was a result of a complicated set of conflicting allegiances and identities, rather than a simply adversarial struggle between government imposition of policy and Albanian resistance. The author also analyses the general problems of endemic violence and misadministration at the provincial level, and examines Albanian efforts to gain nationality rights and maintain local privileges and tribal autonomy.
Weaving his analysis of these events into a chronological framework, he concludes that Albanian independence resulted from a confluence of foreign and domestic developments rather than from the design and will of the Albanians themselves. This stimulating study offers many fresh insights into the dynamics of power within the Ottoman Empire and contributes a new perspective to the study of the development of Albanian nationalism.
George W. Gawrych is Associate Professor of Middle East History at Baylor University. He is the author of The Albatross of Decisive Victory: War and Policy between Egypt and Israel in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars and co-author of Armed Peacekeepers in Bosnia. He has written numerous articles about the history of Turkey and the Middle East and in 1989 he won the Biennial Award for the Best Published Article in Turkish Studies, awarded by the Turkish Studies Association of North America.