The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response

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9780060558703: The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response

A History of International Human Rights and Forgotten Heroes

In this national bestseller, the critically acclaimed author Peter Balakian brings us a riveting narrative of the massacres of the Armenians in the 1890s and of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Using rarely seen archival documents and remarkable first-person accounts, Balakian presents the chilling history of how the Turkish government implemented the first modern genocide behind the cover of World War I. And in the telling, he resurrects an extraordinary lost chapter of American history.

Awarded the Raphael Lemkin Prize for the best scholarly book on genocide by the Institute for Genocide Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY Graduate Center.

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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.

From Publishers Weekly:

Now faded from memory in the shadow of the Holocaust, the Turkish slaughter of more than a million Armenians in 1915-1916 was a virtual template for the 20th-century horrors that followed, and much of what Balakian describes so powerfully is now chillingly familiar: inhuman brutality; mass deportations of helpless civilians (often in overcrowded railroad boxcars); headlines screaming of "systematic race extermination"; activists and intellectuals calling for intervention; and, most devastatingly, the lack of political will in the West to intervene to stop the slaughter. Balakian exposes the roots of the genocide in the "total war" atmosphere of WWI, which combusted with the pan-Turkish nationalism of the Young Turk government, inflamed Muslim rage against "infidel" Armenian Christians, and a long-simmering Ottoman hatred of the Armenians dating to Sultan Abdul Hamid II and his slaughters in the 1890s. Balakian, who wrote so movingly of the impact of the genocide on his own family in Black Dog of Fate, also underscores how well known the Armenian destruction was in America through detailed reports by U.S. consuls throughout Turkey and steady newspaper reporting, and how great the response was in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and survivors. In a horrifying account, city by city, region by region, Balakian quotes firsthand testimony about the decimation of the Armenian population and their towns and culture. Yet he retains the measured tone of a historian throughout; if anything, he lets Woodrow Wilson off too easily for not declaring war on Turkey. But readers will come away sadly convinced that Armenians' brave but doomed stand in Van should be as celebrated as the Warsaw ghetto uprising, and the corpse-strewn Lake Gaeljak as well known as Babi Yar. 16 pages of b&w photos and maps not seen by PW.
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