The arguments presented below support, I hope, the following set of assertions. First, historical writing on the question of the “decline” of the Ottoman Empire presently is undergoing a sweeping, if incomplete, revision that vitally affects our perceptions not only of this now-defunct imperial system but also of the contemporary Middle East. Secondly, the debate over Ottoman decline only now is escaping from its thorough enmeshment in European norms of what constitutes political and economic development and the very concept of progress itself. Thirdly, from the later 18th century until about twenty years ago, notions of Ottoman “decline” had been a popular and unquestioned item in the intellectual inventory of Western academics and politicians alike. Fourthly, the challenges mounted to the decline paradigm reflect, among Ottomanists, an increasingly sophisticated sense of the past that owes much to the growth of global and comparative history. The collapse of the Soviet empire reinforced, but did not give rise to, these challenges.