Ordered to die: a history of the Ottoman army in the First World War

Ordered to Die
Author Edward J. Erickson
Original title Ordered to die: a history of the Ottoman army in the First World War
Country United States
Language English
Genre War
Historical non-fiction
Publisher Greenwood Publishing
Publication date
Media type Hardcover
Pages 265

Ordered to die: a history of the Ottoman army in the First World War is an account of the Ottoman Empire's military engagements in World War I (specifically the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I), fought between the Allies (led by Britain and Russia) and the Central Powers.[1] It was written by Edward J. Erickson. It is widely considered an extensive analysis and regarded as one of the objective scholarly works of military history of the period. It was divided into seven sections beginning prewar military issues.


Edward Erickson has produced the first fully researched account of the Ottoman army in the First World War. There simply has not been a similar complete account, apart from an earlier work in French. In order to achieve this task, Erickson relied heavily on non-published official histories that were not open to non-Turkish historian in the Ottoman Archives until the late 1980s and Turkish general staff archives, which have very limited access as of 2008. He also used of a limited number of Ottoman Turkish documents. Erickson's book is almost entirely on the strategic and operational level of the Ottoman Army, which has not been previously described. This book, uniquely different from previous publications, includes discussions of such things as tactics, social issues and the humanitarian dimensions of the Ottoman Army's engagements.

Ordered to die presents sets of data on subjects such as the Ottoman army organisation, the structure of the General Staff and headquarters, German military assistance and Ottoman casualty figures. All this information is difficult to find, and published in very different sources that are not available to general audience. Erickson’s figures for the Ottoman casualties are very systematic, and unlike previous publications, which only present two thirds of the campaign histories (presented by campaign bases rather than a holistic approach), covers every branch, year by year, even down to single engagements.

The overall conclusion, all things considered, is that the Ottoman army’s record in World War I was an astounding achievement. The book claims it was a "saga of fortitude and resilience". The book presents ample evidence to support this conclusion.

Critical reviews

Erik Jan Zürcher

Erik Jan Zürcher claims "Ordered to die" is nicely presented, with useful tables and a number of photographs, but he claims that Ordered to die is a book with a clear but limited purpose.[2] He states that the book presents a purely military history of the Ottoman war effort in the English language, where histories of this type have so far only been available in French or Turkish.


  1. ^ Google Books
  2. ^ Review Article by Eric Jan Zürcher (pdf)
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