Turkey’s ‘fearless advocate’ Prof. Norman Stone dies

Norman Stone, the former Professor of Modern History at Oxford and European History at Bilkent, has died aged 78. The Scottish historian and multi-linguist, who spoke 12 languages, was a former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, often attracting controversy with his outspoken views, not least in rejecting claims of an “Armenian Genocide” in Ottoman Turkey.

He was an award-winning author: The Eastern Front 1914-1917 (1975) was the first authoritative account of the Russian Front to be published in the West. Top titles Europe Transformed 1878-1919 (1983) and Turkey: A Short History (2011) followed. He retired from Oxford, to teach International Relations at Bilkent in 1997. Its Russian Studies Centre is one of his legacies in Turkey.

The country in the late 1990s was much less familiar to the British public and intellectuals than it is today. Friend and fellow Turcophile – David Barchard notes in his brilliant obituary of Stone:

“Norman’s decades in Turkey were a kind of legendary epoch, bringing the country and its people to far wider attention…There was a strong anti-Turkish lobby, springing ultimately from Turkey’s post-Ottoman Mediterranean adversaries. I remember sitting in a London club around that date and hearing some of its members denouncing Norman for moving to Turkey. If attitudes have shifted at least somewhat since then, a good deal of the credit belongs to Norman.”

Stone moved to Budapest a decade ago, but remained a frequent visitor to Turkey, to see friends and for medical treatment and was in Ankara a week before he passed away in his sleep on 18 June 2019.