Can traditional cultures in the third world break with the past in order to enjoy modern civilization? Ought they to do so? And at what price? Can a leader persuade or force his nation to make so drastic a change? Questions such as these were brought to the rest of the planet by the Europeans who explored, invaded, and settled the other continents in the years following 1492. Half-a-millennium later, we still are looking for answers to some of them.

I would have said that at least one thing seems clear. It is the apparent truth charmingly illustrated in Anna and the King of Siam: that a people cannot be made European—or modern or Western, call it what you will—merely by the fiat of their ruler, no matter how powerful he or she may be. I would have said it, except that it would have not been entirely true. For it is contradicted by the achievement of Mustafa Kemal in creating the modern Turkish Republic. That is what...


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