Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town

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9780143118848: Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town

"A finely written, brave, and very personal book." -Orhan Pamuk

In 2001, Christopher de Bellaigue wrote a story for The New York Review of Books, in which he briefly discussed the killing and deportation of half a million Armenians from Turkey in 1915. These massacres, he suggested, were best understood as part of the struggles that attended the end of the Ottoman Empire. Upon publication, the Review was besieged with letters asserting that this was not war but genocide. How had he gotten it so wrong? De Bellaigue set out for Turkey's troubled southeast to discover what really happened. What emerged is both an intellectual detective story and a reckoning with memory and identity. Rebel Land unravels the enigma of the Turkish twentieth century-a time that contains the death of an empire, the founding of a nation, and the near extinction of a people.

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About the Author:

Christopher de Bellaigue was born in London and spent the past decade in the Middle East and South Asia. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for a number of publications, including the Financial Times, The Economist, and The New York Review of Books. His previous book, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs, was shortlisted for the 2004 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.

From Booklist:

Turkey is still hoping to join the European Union, but the issue of Turkish treatment of minority Kurds, as well as the ongoing refusal of the government to acknowledge the mass slaughter of Armenians in 1915 are issues that refuse to disappear. De Bellaigue, a former foreign correspondent for the Economist and the New York Review of Books, found himself ensnared in controversy when he wrote a pro-Turkish article that seemed to diminish Armenian claims of “genocide.” Startled by the negative reaction, de Bellaigue decided to reconsider his acceptance of the usual Turkish narrative of past and current controversies. He chose to leave behind cosmopolitan Istanbul and Ankara and repeatedly visit the town of Varto in southeastern Turkey, where the cultures of Turks, Armenians, and Kurds have intermingled and clashed for centuries. The result is a revealing and stunning examination of Turkey’s past and present that also poses interesting questions about ethnic and national identity. De Bellaigue utilizes oral stories of villagers, government propaganda, and various primary sources and makes a strenuous effort to sift truth from fiction. --Jay Freeman

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