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The Gendarme

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A book that you will not soon forget......

    This book came to me as a Christmas present- my brother knows that I enjoy historical novels. But this is much, much more. This is a novel of a past and of a present. It is about how racial, ethnic, and religious differences can divide groups of very similar people. And most of all it shows us how we often cope with aweful situations by alteration of memory.
    This is based in 1990 and in 1915. The description of the relocation of the Armenians, the dehumanizing effect on the subjects as well as those charged to move them, and the resultant clashes that occur is enlightenting. The willingness to view the "other" group as less human is explored in several contexts.
    But central to this story is a love story that is lost and later found in a man's memory. The seperation of memory versus dream is explored in so many ways. Loss due to age, trauma, disease, amd self preservation of ego are all explored. As well as the way others view these changes.
    This is not just a chic book about a love story. this is not just a Middle East adventure book for men. This is a hauntingly beautiful book about the human condition and the things that are essential to each and all of us being human.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Gen­darme by Mark T. Mus­t­ian is a novel about the Armen­ia

    The Gen­darme by Mark T. Mus­t­ian is a novel about the Armen­ian geno­cide of 1915. The events take place dur­ing World War I, when the Turks deported Arme­ni­ans into Syria – an explo­sion which is seen every­where but turkey as an act of geno­cide.

    Emmett Conn, born Ahmet Kahn, is 92 and suf­fers from a brain tumor and the ail­ments of old age. In his dreams, Emmett is hunted by a girl he saved while par­tic­i­pat­ing in what is to become the Armen­ian geno­cide of 1915.

    Even though his fam­ily thinks him unsta­ble, Emmett tries to find out what hap­pened to the girl who is one of 65 sur­vivors he was in charge of march­ing out of Turkey – 65 out of 2,000.

    The Gen­darme by Mark T. Mus­t­ian comes off from an inter­est­ing point of view, an old sol­dier – a Gen­darme – feels remorse about acts he com­mit­ted dur­ing World War I. after being diag­nosed with a ter­mi­nal brain tumor, the pro­tag­o­nist goes look­ing for a woman he saved, try­ing to find out what hap­pened to her.

    The pro­tag­o­nist is a Turk­ish sol­dier, dur­ing a bat­tle he was mis­taken for an Eng­lish trooper, sent to the hos­pi­tal and mar­ried an Amer­i­can nurse. He also lost his memory.

    As the 92 year old man starts remem­ber­ing some of the hor­rors he inflicted on oth­ers, he must find what hap­pened to the girl he loved, and still loves, so he can give rest to his con­scious and his dreams. The author takes a good look at a tor­tured soul, a man who did things he knew were wrong and is now try­ing to make a lit­tle amend, try­ing to fig­ure out if the life he saved made a difference.

    It is refresh­ing to read a story from the aggressor’s point of view, usu­ally we get a sore look from the victim’s eyes. This aggres­sor, how­ever, is jus­ti­fy­ing his acts, how­ever hor­ren­dous. In war and under pres­sure, as well as mob men­tal­ity, reg­u­lar peo­ple com­mit atroc­i­ties which weeks or even days before were unthink­able to them.

    While it’s not the author’s main point, he does insert many shades of grey into his story. We get to know a man who we would oth­er­wise con­sider a war crim­i­nal. We fol­low his tri­als, tribu­la­tions, his rela­tion­ship with his daugh­ters, his trou­bled grand­son, his dead wife and his long lost love which he gave up a lot for but still doesn’t exactly know why? Maybe to save a shade of human­ity which is lost dur­ing such times.

    This book works on many lev­els, his­tor­i­cal and emo­tional, it ana­lyzes regret, for­give­ness and how our per­cep­tion changes with the envi­ron­ment and over­time. A well writ­ten novel about an over­looked geno­cide and the human experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2013

    o Hrrofying reality of genocide survival a

    Heart wrenchlng story of horrific events in a young mans life.
    Memoried llost for 70years start seeping back into an old mansconsciousnesl

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  • Posted March 4, 2012

    Reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion

    I have gotten in discussions lately regarding atrocities committed by soldiers that violate the Geneva Convention. Some people believe that, under no circumstances should such atrocities be committed. Others understand why they happen, given all the circumstances in which a soldier finds oneself. Others say, "The enemy gets what they deserve." This final group would resonate with Ahmet's realist admonitions to Araxie, regarding the ". . . simplicity of youth...the naïveté of black and white...there has been injustice, as there would be in anything". Ahmet's logic rests alongside such atrocities, and I wasn't sure I'd want to read this book and be confronted with these things.
    However, I found no issue with Mark Mustian's tale of a Turkish-American uncovering memories (his, or otherwise) of a soldier's service in Turkey as a gendarme during WWI. I wondered why I continue to read on, why I continued to feel for Araxie, Ahmet, and "Emmitt", Ahmet's Americanized persona. I think the distance of years helped, but also Emmitt's own doubts that Ahmet's memories were his own. I was reminded of Nicole Krauss' equally moving THE HISTORY OF LOVE, and how war, and immigrants fleeing to America from it, created these dual personalities for so many people. The gap is stretched even more when we read of Emmitt struggling to connect with his children and grandchildren, all modern, all American, and so different from he.
    I never thought I could come to love someone like Ahmet, and I thought I did, or maybe I didn't--maybe I just wanted him to be happy, to finally be reconciled with his past and its actions. He is like us all, imperfect, human, and capable of such change. At the end of this novel, I wondered if the possibility of redemption exists for everyone, and is it attainable from within, or only from those we have wronged? I cannot speak for others, especially those with family history regarding the Armenian genocide, but it has made me forgive my own tormentors a little more, so I guess it is possible.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    Beautifully written, haunting story, of ugliness and love.

    Just a top notch story, by an author that really knows how to write. The prose flows like oil, smoothly through thick and thin, and there is lots of both. I never knew anything about genocide against Armenians around 1915, but this certainly wakes you up. Harrah, and hope for more from this talented author. The sophisticated book club members should latch onto this one. jlacknet

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    A well-written, fair story about the Armenian Genocide

    This book is well researched and presented in the most unbiased format imaginable. It will keep your interest to the last with it's fascinating plot that incorporates a wide array of important topics including prejudice, love, immigration, and family. The author is of Armenian decent writing about an atrocity that happened to his ancestors less than a century ago in Turkey known as the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian citizens of the country, for which there were many, were determined by select members of the governing body to all be enemies of the state needing to be deported. About a million people died either through quick extermination or through the rigors of traveling so far through such desolate parts of the region in order to leave their homes behind. Mustian does a great job of describing one of the many journeys that was taken to transfer the Armenian citizens out of Turkey, in his depiction, to Syria. He creates a very eye opening revelation to a murderous time in the world's history that I was certainly taught nothing about while being educated here in the United States. The author himself was able to travel to the countries depicted in the novel in order to get an accurate representation of the place. Another fascinating part of the text is related to it's time orientation. The story is being told through the memories of an elderly man in near present day. The shifts between present and past were generally easily followed and made sense. Sometimes the characteristics of the elderly man seemed too young, but considering what he was remembering, it appeared realistic. In short, this book is a must for anyone with an interest in history or just good literature, the Middle East (which should be everyone these days), is of Armenian decent, or like me have visited the Armenian Orthodox Church in Esfahan, Iran and have seen telling pictures of the survivors of this catastrophic example of inhumanity who escaped to Iran and found refuge there.

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  • Posted September 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    I judge a book or a movie by how many days after the reading or viewing experience that I am still thinking about it--that, and how many times a day my mind returns to the work. I read this in one sitting a week ago, and have thought about it several times each day since. That makes it a ten on even a five point scale--it is just that good. The writer's sparse, unelaborated style, unconventional but well sustained narrative line, clearly careful research, and ability to tell a truly moving story sustained me as it surely will many others. Mustian's work is hauntingly elegant, as important as it is painful to experience the blending of humankind's very worst and very best insticnts. I recommend THE GENDARME without reservation and am eager to see how other readers respond. WHAT a book!

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  • Posted September 7, 2010

    The Gendarme is a rare gem.

    Mark Mustian weaves the past and present together forming a rich and complicated tapestry. The Gendarme is a beautifully written story of pain, struggle, and loss. Set partly amid the atrocities of the Armenian genocide, The Gendarme tackles the some of the most harrowing acts against humanity. Emmett Conn is an engaging and multi-faceted character who is capable of deep love and passion while subsequently committing horrific acts.

    The Gendarme is an excellent book club selection.

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    Posted February 8, 2011

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