The ancient Turkish khans were the first to raise a golden orb over the Central Asian pavilions where they held court. Ever since, the Turks have used the golden sphere as the symbol of present power and the bounty of future conquest. They call it kızıl elma, or the golden apple.
In the Turkish imagination, the golden apple has conjured up the promise of rich booty ever since an early Turkish people, the Huns, descended from the Tien-Shan mountains in Central Asia to overrun the Roman Empire. The golden apple is a never-ending quest, however. For the Ottoman Turks, the Byzantine capital of Constantinople was once the golden apple; when they conquered that city in 1453, the golden apple was considered to be in Rome; later still, they believed the golden apple was hidden in Vienna. In the early 20th century, the golden apple of Turkish hopes shifted to the east, to a mirage of pan-Turkic unity. Times and means change, but the Turks today have not forgotten their deep-rooted drive to profit and prosper. The riches of Europe are irresistable and, for now at least, Turkish minds are focused on a new golden apple: membership of the European Union.
The Golden Apple is both a modern history and a portrait of Turkish society today, seen through the eyes of a Dutch newspaper correspondent who has lived in and reported from Turkey for nearly two decades. Each chapter focuses on a theme that is critical to understanding the Turkish mind as Turkey becomes more integrated into European life. Interleaved with interviews and the vivid personal experiences of the author, the book reviews the 80-year history of the Turkish Republic to explain why the country is the unique place it is today: Muslim but with a secular government, ambitious and yet small-minded, sometimes weak but never conquered, a candidate to join the European Union but proudly resisting essential steps that would make it a full member any time soon.
"A gripping read, detailed and knowledgeable … Jessica Lutz gives solid information, but she cannot be pinned down. Those with prejudices about Turkey will be disappointed. Everything is more complex than it seems" -- Maarten van Aalderen, De Telegraaf
"Lutz knows the Turks so well, it's as if she's been 'Turkified'. Every sentence of her book is full of fun and fascination" -- Erdal Balci, Trouw
"An excellent introduction to the Turkish Republic. Lutz has written an intelligent book that stands in stark contrast to the superficiality and ignorance [of European media]" -- Eric Outshoorn, Volkskrant
"After all these years, Lutz knows the Turks inside and out, from their charm to their rudeness, from their greatness to their petty-mindedness" -- Froukje Santing, NRC Handelsblad