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Power and the People

The Enduring Legacy of Athenian Democracy

Democracy was born in Athens. From the city's founding myths to its golden age and chaotic downfall, this timely and well-informed political history is rich with lessons for contemporary America.

Why did vital civic engagement and fair debate in Athens descend into populism and paralysis? Can we compare the demagogue Cleon to President Trump; the Athenian Empire to modern America; or the stubborn island of Melos to Brexit Britain? How did a second referendum save the Athenians from a bloodthirsty decision? Who were the last defenders of democracy in the changing, globalized world of the fourth century BC—and how do we unconsciously echo these leaders today?

With verve and acuity, the heroics and the critics of Athenian democracy are brought to bear on today's politics, revealing in all its glories and its flaws the system that still survives to execute the power of the people.

Alev Scott studied Classics at New College, Oxford, where she was taught by Robin Lane Fox. Alev taught herself Turkish and immersed herself in the Turkish side of her heritage and wrote the widely acclaimed Ottoman Odyssey. She has since reported from Turkey for a wide number of newspapers, most specifically for the Financial Times.

Andronike Makres is a founding member of the Hellenic Education & Research Center in Athens. She graduated from the University of Athens and holds a doctorate in Ancient History from Oxford University. She lives in Athens.

“Scott tracks the vine of Turkish influence, ‘architectural, political and social,’ that laces through the Levant and the Balkans.”

– The New York Times Book Review (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“An ambitious history. The author grounds her thoroughly researched narrative in history and past travel accounts, and she injects it with earnest, wry observations. Scott treats us to a lively grand tour of the lost Ottoman Empire and shows how contemporary leaders exploit simplified versions of history to support nationalist agendas.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred) (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“An insightful and easily approachable combination of travelogue and history. Essential reading for those interested in how historical mythologies warp and contort individual lives."  

– Publishers Weekly (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“Scott roams through elements of the Ottoman Empire in this bright travel narrative. She laces history with footloose journeying and the result is a restless, kaleidoscopic, and chromatic portrait of a land in flux.”

– Christian Science Monitor (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“An ambitious travel memoir/history, tracing the footsteps of ‘descendants of ancient minorities that were allowed to flourish in the empire, and [were] then intimidated, ignored or expelled from modern Turkey.’ Scott treats us to a lively grand tour of the lost Ottoman Empire and shows how contemporary leaders exploit simplified versions of history to support nationalist agendas.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred) (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“Beautifully written with clear-eyed judgments and a sharp ear for fascinating anecdote and memorable characters. Exhilarating and often eye-opening, it shows this crucial region of the world from a new perspective. Essential reading for anyone interested in Turkey and its history.”

– Michael Wood, author of In Search of Shakespeare (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“A lovely, lyrical, and always insightful account that is as much about the present as the past. A joy from start to finish.”   

– Peter Frankopan, New York Times bestselling author of The Silk Roads (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

“Alev Scott approaches the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean by side roads and unfrequented channels. Her book is clear, bright, humane, and never disheartened.”

– James Buchan, author of Days of God (Praise for Ottoman Odyssey)

More books from this author: Alev Scott