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Norman Itzkowitz

Department/Program(s):
  • Near Eastern Studies
Position: Emeritus Faculty
Title: Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus.
Office: C-5-J Firestone Library
Phone: 609-258-4286



I am a product of the free educational system provided by the City of New York in its bygone days—I went to Stuyvesant High School and CCNY, graduating in 1953 with a major in Russian and Russian History and varsity letters in fencing and lacrosse. On the advice of my teacher, Hans Kohn, I came to Princeton as a graduate student to study Persian, but I soon found the field of Turkish studies embodied in the person of my mentor Lewis V. Thomas much more attractive. I was the first student in the program in European and Near Eastern History, a degree program initiated by the late Cyril E. Black. I joined the faculty in 1958 and for the next five years taught half time in the History Department and half time in Oriental Languages and Literatures, the predecessor of this department.

My early research brought the process of prosopography into Ottoman studies, and I have taught courses on how to use the computer in historical research. My work has also been in institutional history, and most recently, following my psychoanalytic training in New York at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis, I have been working on bringing the insights of psychoanalysis into the field of Turkish studies. In collaboration with Dr. Vamik Volkan of the University of Virginia Medical School, I wrote a psychological biography of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and together we finished one on Richard M. Nixon, working with a former undergraduate of mine, Andrew Dod.

I am now retired, but it has been my privilege to have had as students many of the current leading Ottomanists in the field, including Cornell Fleischer, Karl Barbir, Engin Akarli, Metin Kunt and Baki Tezcan. I have also worked with some rather intelligent and hard-working professional army officers, including Colonel William Diehl.

Representative publications:

The Immortal Ataturk, University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition, University of Chicago Press, 1972, 1980.

Neighbors in Conflict: A Psycho-political Study of Greek-Turkish Relations, Eothen Press, 1994.

Wicked History, a series of non-fiction books for elementary school children, co-authored with Enid Goldberg (Rasputin, Genghis Khan, Torquemada, Vlad the Impaler), Scholastic, 2007.