Adventures in Bookland: The Janissaries by Godfrey Godwin
A history of the shock troops, administrators, Praetorian guard and power behind the rise, dominance and slow decline of the Ottoman Empire, a history all the more fascinating in that the Janissaries were, at least to start with, slave soldiers, impressed Christian boys taken in levy from conquered Christian lands, converted to Islam and made into the personal slaves of the Sultan. It is indeed a fascinating history but one that leaves unanswered the key question with such troops: how were these children, taken as slaves, so effectively turned into the slave soldiers of those who had taken them as slaves? Of course, part of the answer might lie in the eminence that could be attained by the most talented among the Janissaries, but I would still like to see a work where the psychological, physical and other measures taken to turn these boys into slave soldiers is properly examined. I suspect that there might be some parallels with the child soldiers used in some conflicts in Africa but it seems to be the great unexamined area of Ottoman scholarship, as if to investigate it would somehow be indelicate or rude. If anyone knows of such a study, please tell me!