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

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

3.2 4
by Christopher de Bellaigue
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"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

…  See more details below

Overview

"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.

Editorial Reviews

Joseph O'Neill
De Bellaigue investigates…brilliantly and evenhandedly (if occasionally emotively)…It's a sense of trust, though, that Rebel Land ultimately bequeaths—a rare, remarkable feat, given the treacherousness of the terrain. De Bellaigue concludes his personal story with the information that, having wandered restlessly among "the tall stalks of identity," fatherhood has returned him to England and to a new appreciation of his citizenship. That may be so; but whatever his protestations to the contrary, his heart remains part Turkish. And Turkey, however much it may not like it, is lucky to have Christopher de Bellaigue. This book ought to be compulsory reading from Batman to Bodrum.
—The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
A brave investigation into the buried history of Armenian massacre and Kurdish violence in a small Turkish village. Conversant in Turkish and charmed by the cosmopolitan nature of the people, foreign correspondent de Bellaigue (In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran, 2005, etc.) was posted to Istanbul for some years before he began to question the official Turkish story that the forced deportation and massacre of Armenians during World War I had been provoked by their rebelliousness and collusion with Russia. Moreover, the perpetual harping on the supposed genocide was the result of "a vindictive Armenian lobby and its friends in Europe and America-xenophobes and racists." In order to uncover the truth, de Bellaigue installed himself in the mountainous village of Varto, just east of the Iranian and Armenian borders, in the heart of what used to be a thriving population of Armenians, now dominated by Kurds and Alevis, a kind of offbeat Shia sect. In these prickly ethnic pockets, the author found a troubling, fairly typical "history of forced removal and migration, a memory of flight" still fresh in the minds of the inhabitants. From Mus to Erzurum, he learned about the massacre of Armenians, such as the cold-blooded slaughter of a caravan of refugees heading toward Syria by official Turkish decree in June 1915. In his readings and travels, the author discovered the bewildering history of heroes and turncoats in the area, including Ataturk, who wielded modern Turkey out of the Ottoman collapse, but ultimately turned a blind eye to the Kurds, setting in motion "decades of oppression and denial"; Varto native Halit, the architect of the Kurdish rebellion of 1925; and Mehmet SerifFirat, author of a late 1940s' history that first defined an identity for the Alevi, at the expense of the Kurds, then was murdered for it. These are blistering, long-running controversies, and de Bellaigue gets in the thick of it. A tortuous, somewhat discombobulated tapestry of research and experience. Agent: Peter Straus/Rogers, Coleridge & White

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143118848
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/29/2011
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,251,567
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet 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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >