Like all great men in history, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) can be ciewed in a number of ways: as the founder of a state, a nation-builder, creator of political institutions, a moderniser of his society, an extraordinarily capable political leader, a successful millitary commander, an educator of his nation, one of the fist successful anti-imperialist leaders of the developing world, a statesman who deeply believed in and contribuyed to world peace.
In this volume Atatürk’s role as the founder of a modern state-both secular and republican-is emphasised. The creation of a modern state was a prerequisite for the modernisation of society and economy, and Atatürk’s policy of society and economy, and Atatürk’s policy of friendship with all nations enabled him to concentrate on his great task of building and consolidating yhe new Turkish state. Also, it was the intention of the editors to bring out the universal significance of the Kemalist experience and to examine the enduring lessons which other modernising societies can learn from it.
Close attention is given to the historical setting from which the Kemalist republic emerged-and the elements of continuty and change between the late Ottoman Empire, particularly in the Young Turk era (1908-18), and the Kemalist republic. Such an historical perspective is specially useful since the unique personality traits in works on great historical figures often overshadow the societal factors. One of the distinguishing features of the Kemalist revalution in the Islamic world is the emphasis on secularism; Turkey remains the only Islamic country where secularism is one of the basic constitutional principles, and the legal system is completely secularised.
Atatürk died in the prime of life, but remains one of the towering figures of the twentieth century and, exceptionally among the political leaders of the interwar years, his reputation has not suffered with the passing of time.