Armenian Golgotha

By Grigoris Balakian; Peter Balakian (Translator); Aris Sevag
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307262882, 509pp.)

Publication Date: March 31, 2009

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Description
Never before in English, "Armenian Golgotha" is the most dramatic and comprehensive eyewitness account of the first modern genocide.
On April 24, 1915, the priest Grigoris Balakian was arrested along with some 250 other intellectuals and leaders of Constantinople's Armenian community. It was the beginning of the Ottoman Turkish government's systematic attempt to eliminate the Armenian people from Turkey; it was a campaign that continued through World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, by which time more than a million Armenians had been annihilated and expunged from their historic homeland. For Grigoris Balakian, himself condemned, it was also the beginning of a four-year ordeal during which he would bear witness to a seemingly endless caravan of blood.
Balakian sees his countrymen sent in carts, on donkeys, or on foot to face certain death in the desert of northern Syria. Many would not even survive the journey, suffering starvation, disease, mutilation, and rape, among other tortures, before being slaughtered en route. In these pages, he brings to life the words and deeds of survivors, foreign witnesses, and Turkish officials involved in the massacre process, and also of those few brave, righteous Turks, who, with some of their German allies working for the Baghdad Railway, resisted orders calling for the death of the Armenians. Miraculously, Balakian manages to escape, and his flight--through forest and over mountain, in disguise as a railroad worker and then as a German soldier--is a suspenseful, harrowing odyssey that makes possible his singular testimony.
Full of shrewd insights into the political, historical, and cultural context of the Armenian genocide--the template for the subsequent mass killings that have cast a shadow across the twentieth century and beyond--this memoir is destined to become a classic of survivor literature. "Armenian Golgotha" is sure to deepen our understanding of a catastrophic crime that the Turkish government, the Ottomans' successor, denies to this day.



About the Author


Peter Balakian is the author of Black Dog of Fate, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for Memoir and a New York Times Notable Book, and June-tree: New and Selected Poems 1974 2000. He is the recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University and teaches at Colgate University, where he is a Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities.

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