These book reviews are really not worth reading any more. Even when the books are. Rebel Land actually reminded me a decent bit of Power Faith and Fantasy, which you probably wont hear from many other sources. As much as de Bellaigue says that this is a book about "the History of a Turkish Town" it really isn't. I couldn't help but be nagged by the fact that he cared an awful lot more about the PKK then he did about much of anything else.
And while I did enjoy reading the book, even when (especially when) it challenged my own preconceived notions and biases. I'd love to take de Bellaigue out for tea at some point in my life. He has rabble-rouser tendencies, but I figure that's pretty much what you want in a journalist anyways. And his biases show through, sure, but as I said, its journalism. So why not? The PKK is certainly fascinating and Deniz Gezmis is worth writing a book about. So write a book about him. And while knowing that the Armenians just kinda...stopped being around one day is important, and while knowing your Alevi divisions is important, I just felt that it was just window dressing for the book de Bellaigue wanted to write.
All of that said, viewing an issue as it relates to a particular town was pretty cool. Like a Source for only a hundred years. And with grownup writing.
I should reiterate, however, that I don't agree with this books politics. If I've going to be hanging out in Istanbul, I should reiterate that I'm not nearly well-versed enough to take an actual, political, intellectual, stand in the Armenian or Kurdish or Alevi issues, and I'm not about to publish what I feel about an issue. That'd be stupid. So yeah, depending on how you feel about an issue, and how strong those feelings are, you may like this book. If you like righteous indignation, you'd love this book. If you just like people telling you why you're wrong because of what you're reading, you'd have to get this book.