Reviewed by Emily Neumeier (Temple University)
Published on H-AMCA (January, 2019)
Commissioned by Nisa Ari (Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For the past thirty years or so, there has been a proliferation of scholarship exploring how dramatic shifts in international politics and technological development—in a word, modernization—impacted the built environment of the late Ottoman Empire. Zeynep Çelik’s The Remaking of Istanbul remains an important touchstone for these discussions, and more recent volumes on Damascus and Izmir have expanded our view to the provinces, where in the nineteenth century several cities around the Mediterranean flourished as cosmopolitan hubs in their own right. In a departure from these studies, Peter Christensen’s new book Germany and the Ottoman Railways: Art, Empire, and Infrastructure eschews the trend of the singular urban monograph in favor of a much wider investigation of the Ottoman railroad network.