History Professor Gives Lecture on 'Military Genius' in Turkey

Dec. 11, 2007

by Paige Patton, communication specialist, (254) 710-3321

Dr. George Gawrych, associate professor of history at Baylor University, recently was invited to give a lecture in Turkey about a prominent Turkish historical figure. Gawrych presented his lecture, "Ataturk as a Political and Military Genius," Nov. 9 in Ankara, Turkey.

At the invitation of the Turkish Confederation of Employer Association, Gawrych spoke on the day before Ataturk's death is commemorated each year. He was interviewed on a major Turkish television station, and the most popular national Turkish newspaper, Liberty, published an interview with him.

"There is really not much published in English about Ataturk and the Turkish War of Independence," Gawrych said. "I discussed his transition from successful military commander to statesman."

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. He was a division commander during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 and was instrumental in preventing the partition of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace through his political and military leadership in the Turkish War of Independence. The successful resistance led to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Ataturk then instituted reforms in the political, economic and cultural aspects of life in Turkey, which led to the creation of a secular nation-state guided by educational and scientific progress.

Gawrych's teaching focuses on Middle East and military history, and one of his research projects studies Ataturk's leadership during the Turkish War of Independence. Gawrych travels to Turkey each summer to do further research.

"In my lecture, I wanted to give a fresh look at this genius by incorporating the military theory of Carl von Clausewitz," Gawrych said. "I wanted to show the critical importance of politics and his legitimacy as a soldier."

Broader research goals of politics and purpose in war led Gawrych to publish The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman Rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874-1913 in 2006.

Gawrych received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He spent 19 years teaching at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a year at West Point as Visiting Professor before coming to Baylor in August 2003.

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