As I have noted on here several times over the last two years, 2014 marked the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, and now in April 2015 we are marking the centenary of the Armenian Genocide. (The New Yorker has a long and fascinating article on the genocide, which you may read here.)
Numerous books have recently been published--discussed below--and several more are set for release later this year, including Alan Whitehorn's The Armenian Genocide: A Century of Remembrance and Denial (Praeger, 2015), 325pp. About this book we are told by the publisher:
A century after the devastating mass killing of the Ottoman Armenians during the Armenian Genocide—considered one of the first genocides of the 20th century—this catastrophe continues to raise important and troubling issues, particularly given the Turkish state's ongoing denial. Indeed, much of the continuing instability and conflict in the Caucasus is rooted in the Armenian Genocide. Drawing upon diverse academic disciplines and written by a single author who is a leading expert on the subject, The Armenian Genocide: A Century of Remembrance and Denial explores the profound short- and long-term impacts of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. The chapters document how this genocide created a scattered and traumatized Armenian Diaspora and imposed major stresses upon the tiny and vulnerable landlocked Armenian state. The book addresses difficult topics such as the challenge of the "double death" of the victims as a result of the ongoing Turkish state denial. This volume provides an analysis of the Armenian Genocide from several analytical perspectives, thereby giving readers a more comprehensive understanding of this enormously important subject.
About the Armenian genocide--accompanied by an equally devastating, though far less well known, simultaneous slaughter of Pontic Greeks and Assyrian Christians, and later Aegean Greek Christians also--we have seen a number of recent books, and later in 2015 will see several more. (For those desirous of some background at the conceptual and biographical level of "genocide" and the terms origins in the work of Raphael Lemkin, see here.)
Thus, starting off in October last we saw published Geoffrey Robertson, An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians? (Biteback, 2014), 304pp. About this book we are told:
The most controversial question that is still being asked about the First World War - was there an Armenian genocide? - will come to a head on 24 April 2015, when Armenians worldwide will commemorate its centenary and Turkey will deny that it took place, claiming that the deaths of over half of the Armenian race were justified. This has become a vital international issue. Twenty national parliaments in democratic countries have voted to recognise the genocide, but Britain and the USA continue to equivocate for fear of alienating their NATO ally. Geoffrey Robertson QC condemns this hypocrisy, and in An Inconvenient Genocide he proves beyond reasonable doubt that the horrific events in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 constitute the crime against humanity that is today known as genocide. He explains how democracies can deal with genocide denial without infringing free speech, and makes a major contribution to understanding and preventing this worst of all crimes. His renowned powers of advocacy are on full display as he condemns all those - from Sri Lanka to the Sudan, from Old Anatolia to modern Syria and Iraq - who try to justify the mass murder of children and civilians in the name of military necessity or religious fervour.In November was a hefty tome by Fatma Muge Gocek, Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians, 1789-2009 (Oxford UP, 2014), 680pp. About this book we are told:
While much of the international community regards the forced deportation of Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, where approximately 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians perished, as genocide, the Turkish state still officially denies it.
In Denial of Violence, Fatma Müge Göçek seeks to decipher the roots of this disavowal. To capture the negotiation of meaning that leads to denial, Göçek undertook a qualitative analysis of 315 memoirs published in Turkey from 1789 to 2009 in addition to numerous secondary sources, journals, and newspapers. She argues that denial is a multi-layered, historical process with four distinct yet overlapping components: the structural elements of collective violence and situated modernity on one side, and the emotional elements of collective emotions and legitimating events on the other. In the Turkish case, denial emerged through four stages: (i) the initial imperial denial of the origins of the collective violence committed against the Armenians commenced in 1789 and continued until 1907; (ii) the Young Turk denial of the act of violence lasted for a decade from 1908 to 1918; (iii) early republican denial of the actors of violence took place from 1919 to 1973; and (iv) the late republican denial of the responsibility for the collective violence started in 1974 and continues today.
Denial of Violence develops a novel theoretical, historical and methodological framework to understanding what happened and why the denial of collective violence against Armenians still persists within Turkish state and society.
Then in December we saw published a work by Thomas de Waal, Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide (Oxford UP, 2014), 312pp. (This links to the Kindle version. The hardback is forthcoming in February.) About this book we are told:
The destruction of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-16 was the greatest atrocity of World War I. Around one million Armenians were killed, and the survivors were scattered across the world. Although it is now a century old, the issue of what most of the world calls the Armenian Genocide of 1915 is still a live and divisive issue that mobilizes Armenians across the world, shapes the identity and politics of modern Turkey, and has consumed the attention of U.S. politicians for years.
In Great Catastrophe, the eminent scholar and reporter Thomas de Waal looks at the aftermath and politics of the Armenian Genocide and tells the story of recent efforts by courageous Armenians, Kurds, and Turks to come to terms with the disaster as Turkey enters a new post-Kemalist era. The story of what happened to the Armenians in 1915-16 is well-known. Here we are told the "history of the history" and the lesser-known story of what happened to Armenians, Kurds, and Turks in the century that followed. De Waal relates how different generations tackled the issue of the "Great Catastrophe" from the 1920s until the failure of the Protocols signed by independent Armenia and Turkey in 2010. Quarrels between diaspora Armenians supporting and opposing the Soviet Union broke into violence and culminated with the murder of an archbishop in 1933. The devising of the word "genocide," the growth of modern identity politics, and the 50th anniversary of the massacres re-energized a new generation of Armenians. In Turkey the issue was initially forgotten, only to return to the political agenda in the context of the Cold War and an outbreak of Armenian terrorism. More recently, Turkey has started to confront its taboos. In an astonishing revival of oral history, the descendants of tens of thousands of "Islamized Armenians," who have been in the shadows since 1915, have begun to reemerge and reclaim their identities.
Drawing on archival sources, reportage and moving personal stories, de Waal tells the full story of Armenian-Turkish relations since the Genocide in all its extraordinary twists and turns. He looks behind the propaganda to examine the realities of a terrible historical crime and the divisive "politics of genocide" it produced. The book throws light not only on our understanding of Armenian-Turkish relations but also of how mass atrocities and historical tragedies shape contemporary politics.
In late February a Kindle version of a hardcover set for January release will be out: Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy, Sacred Justice: The Voices and Legacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis (Transaction Publishers, 2015), 363pp. About this book we are told:
Sacred Justice is a cross-genre book that uses narrative, memoir, unpublished letters, and other primary and secondary sources to tell the story of a group of Armenian men who organized Operation Nemesis, a covert operation created to assassinate the Turkish architects of the Armenian Genocide. The leaders of Operation Nemesis took it upon themselves to seek justice for their murdered families, friends, and compatriots.
This book includes a large collection of previously unpublished letters that show the strategies, personalities, plans, and dedication of Soghomon Tehlirian, who killed Talaat Pasha, a genocide leader; Shahan Natalie, the agent on the ground in Europe; Armen Garo, the center of Operation Nemesis; Aaron Sachaklian, the logistics and finance officer; and others involved with Nemesis.
The author tells a story that has been either hidden by the necessity of silence or ignored in spite of victims’ narratives. This is the story of those who attempted to seek justice for the victims and the effect this effort had on them and on their families. The book shows how the narratives of resistance and trauma can play out in the next generation and how resistance can promote resilience. Little has been written about Operation Nemesis. As we approach the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it is time.
Timed for release at the end of March is Alan Whitehorn's The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide (ABC-CLIO), 320pp. About this forthcoming work we are told:
Also in March will be a book on the same topic but of a quite different genre. Instead of scholarly study, we have Four Years in the Mountains of Kurdistan: An Armenian Boy's Memoir of Survival written by Aram Haigaz and translated by Iris Haigaz Chekenian (Maiden Lane Press, 2015), 396pp.The Armenian Genocide has often been considered a template for subsequent genocides and is one of the first genocides of the 20th century. As such, it holds crucial historical significance, and it is critically important that today's students understand this case study of inhumanity. This book provides a much-needed, long-overdue reference volume on the Armenian Genocide. It begins with seven introductory analytical essays that provide a broad overview of the Armenian Genocide and then presents individual entries, a historical timeline, and a selection of documents.
This essential reference work covers all aspects of the Armenian Genocide, including the causes, phases, and consequences. It explores political and historical perspectives as well as the cultural aspects. The carefully selected collection of perspective essays will inspire critical thinking and provide readers with insight into some of the most controversial and significant issues of the Armenian Genocide. Similarly, the primary source documents are prefaced by thoughtful introductions that will provide the necessary context to help students understand the significance of the material.
About this memoir we are told:
Armenian Aram Haigaz was only 15 when he lost his father, brothers, many relatives and neighbors, all killed or dead of starvation when enemy soldiers surrounded their village. He and his mother were put into a forced march and deportation of Armenians into the Turkish desert, part of the systematic destruction of the largely Christian Armenian population in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire. His mother urged Aram to convert to Islam in order to survive, and on the fourth day of the march, a Turk agreed to take this young convert into his household. Aram spent four long years living as a slave, servant and shepherd among Kurdish tribes, slowly gaining his captors’ trust. He grew from a boy to a man in these years and his narrative offers readers a remarkable coming of age story as well as a valuable eyewitness to history. Haigaz was able to escape to the United States in 1921.There are, I know, further books in the works so stay tuned on here for details of some of them.