Armenian Golgotha: Book summary and reviews of Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian

Armenian Golgotha

by Grigoris Balakian

Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian X
Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian
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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"An important historical document, though its relentless depiction of atrocity make this a hard slog for the average reader." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Important for readers who want to judge whether or not this was the first genocide in modern times." - Library Journal.

"Read this heartbreaking book. Armenian Golgotha describes the suffering, agony and massacre of innumerable Armenian families almost a century ago; its memory must remain a lesson for more than one generation." - Elie Wiesel.

"Grigoris Balakian's Armenian Golgotha is a powerful, moving account of the Armenian Genocide, a story that needs to be known, and is told here with a sweep of experience and wealth of detail that is as disturbing as it is irrefutable." - Sir Martin Gilbert.

This information about Armenian Golgotha shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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More Information

Born in 1876, Grigoris Balakian was one of the leading Armenian intellectuals of his generation. Educated in Germany and in the Ottoman Empire, he was ordained as a celibate priest in 1901 and served the Armenian Apostolic Church as an emissary to Europe, Russia in particular. He wrote several books, some of which were confiscated by the Turkish government in 1915 or subsequently lost. He later became bishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church in southern France. He died in Marseilles in 1934.

Peter Balakian is the author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocideand America's Response , winner of the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize, a New York Times best seller, and a New York Times Notable Book; and of Black Dog of Fate, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of Memoir, also a New York Times Notable Book. Grigoris Balakian was his great-uncle.

Armenian Golgotha is translated by Peter Balakian.

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