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Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres
Birds Without Wings begins in the early 1900s in an idyllic town in southwest Turkey in the declining years of the Ottoman Empire. The people are a mix of Greek and Turkish, Muslim and Christian, and they live harmoniously in a simple life unfettered by outside forces. The beautiful Philothei, who is Christian, loves the Muslim boy, Ibrahim. Rustem Bey, the local landlord, finds his wife with another man, murders her lover, and drags her to the town square to be stoned, but the imam saves her. Intertwined with their stories of the townspeople is the history of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. The rise of Turkish nationalism, the onset of World War I, the conscription of the local boys and men, the battle of Gallipoli, and ethnic cleansing tear their world apart. Louis de Bernieres (author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin) returns with an epic novel about small town life and the worldwide forces that have changed the world forever. Birds Without Wings has received mixed reviews with the Sydney Morning Herald saying, "At a time when the hypocrisy of modern invasions and of simplistic caricatures of other faiths circulates all too easily, this book offers a timely message to us all."