"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Books about Armenian Cilicia and Genocide

The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia has announced a forthcoming series of books in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. We shall pay attention to them as they appear.
They have also recently published a number of books of interest, which may be viewed here.

Their Catholicos has announced 2012 as the Year of the Armenian Book in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Armenian printing press.

In related matters, we have several new books about the dolorous events of 1915, the first being released last month: Taner Akçam, The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton U Press, 2012), 528pp.

The author, we are told, is actually Turkish, and one of the first and few Turkish academics to tackle this topic openly. About this book the publisher tells us:
Introducing new evidence from more than 600 secret Ottoman documents, this book demonstrates in unprecedented detail that the Armenian Genocide and the expulsion of Greeks from the late Ottoman Empire resulted from an official effort to rid the empire of its Christian subjects. Presenting these previously inaccessible documents along with expert context and analysis, Taner Akam's most authoritative work to date goes deep inside the bureaucratic machinery of Ottoman Turkey to show how a dying empire embraced genocide and ethnic cleansing. 
Although the deportation and killing of Armenians was internationally condemned in 1915 as a "crime against humanity and civilization," the Ottoman government initiated a policy of denial that is still maintained by the Turkish Republic. The case for Turkey's "official history" rests on documents from the Ottoman imperial archives, to which access has been heavily restricted until recently. It is this very source that Akam now uses to overturn the official narrative.
The documents presented here attest to a late-Ottoman policy of Turkification, the goal of which was no less than the radical demographic transformation of Anatolia. To that end, about one-third of Anatolia's 15 million people were displaced, deported, expelled, or massacred, destroying the ethno-religious diversity of an ancient cultural crossroads of East and West, and paving the way for the Turkish Republic.By uncovering the central roles played by demographic engineering and assimilation in the Armenian Genocide, this book will fundamentally change how this crime is understood and show that physical destruction is not the only aspect of the genocidal process.
A second book, a collection of essays, furthers our exploration of the events of 1915: Ronald Grigor Suny et al, eds., A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire (Oxford U Press, 2011), 464pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
One hundred years after the deportations and mass murder of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and other peoples in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the history of the Armenian genocide is a victim of historical distortion, state-sponsored falsification, and deep divisions between Armenians and Turks. Working together for the first time, Turkish, Armenian, and other scholars present here a compelling reconstruction of what happened and why. 
This volume gathers the most up-to-date scholarship on Armenian genocide, looking at how the event has been written about in Western and Turkish historiographies; what was happening on the eve of the catastrophe; portraits of the perpetrators; detailed accounts of the massacres; how the event has been perceived in both local and international contexts, including World War I; and reflections on the broader implications of what happened then. The result is a comprehensive work that moves beyond nationalist master narratives and offers a more complete understanding of this tragic event.
A third recent book also treats the genocide: Raymond Kevorkian, The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History (I.B. Tauris, 2011), 1008pp. 

About this book we are told:
The Armenian Genocide was one of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century, an episode in which up to 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. In this major new history, the renowned historian Raymond Kévorkian provides an authoritative account of the origins, events and consequences of the years 1915 and 1916. He considers the role that the Armenian Genocide played in the construction of the Turkish nation state and Turkish identity, as well as exploring the ideologies of power, rule and state violence. Crucially, he examines the consequences of the violence against the Armenians, the implications of deportations and attempts to bring those who committed the atrocities to justice.Kévorkian offers a detailed and meticulous record, providing an authoritative analysis of the events and their impact upon the Armenian community itself, as well as the development of the Turkish state.  This important book will serve as an indispensable resource to historians of the period, as well as those wishing to understand the history of genocidal violence more generally.
And finally, set for release in November, is a second volume in a trilogy by Seta B. Dadoyan, The Armenians in the Medieval Islamic World: Armenian Realpolitik in the Islamic World and Diverging ParadigmsCase of Cilicia Eleventh to Fourteenth Centuries (Transaction Publishers, 2012), 310pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
In the second of a three-volume work, Seta B. Dadoyan explores the Armenian condition from the 970s to the end of the fourteenth century. This period marked the gradual loss of semi-autonomy on the traditional mainland and the rise of Armenian power of diverging patterns in southeastern Asia Minor, north Syria, Cilicia, and Egypt.
Dadoyan’s premise is that if Armenians and Armenia have always been located in the Middle East and the Islamic world, then their history is also a natural part of that region and its peoples. She observes that the Armenian experience has been too complicated to be defined by simplistic constructs centered on the idea of a heroic, yet victimized nation. She notes that a certain politics of historical writing, supported by a culture of authority, has focused sharply on episodes and, in particular, on the genocide.
For her sources, Dadoyan has used all available and relevant (primary and secondary) Armenian sources, as well as primary Arab texts and sources. This book will stimulate re-evaluation of the period, and re-conceptualizing Armenian and Middle Eastern histories.

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