Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe

Overview

In the modern Greek city of Thessaloniki, the ruins of a vast Jewish cemetery lie buried under the city’s university. Nearby is the site of the childhood home of one of the founders of the modern Turkish state. These are tantalizing reminders of what was once the bustling cosmopolitan city of Salonica, home not just to Greeks but to thousands of Sephardic Jews, Turks, Bulgarians, and Armenians living and working peacefully alongside one another.

Thessaloniki is just one example ...

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Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe

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Overview

In the modern Greek city of Thessaloniki, the ruins of a vast Jewish cemetery lie buried under the city’s university. Nearby is the site of the childhood home of one of the founders of the modern Turkish state. These are tantalizing reminders of what was once the bustling cosmopolitan city of Salonica, home not just to Greeks but to thousands of Sephardic Jews, Turks, Bulgarians, and Armenians living and working peacefully alongside one another.

Thessaloniki is just one example among many of what used to be. Over the past two centuries, ethnic cleansing has remade the map of Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, transforming vast empires that embraced many ethnic groups into nearly homogenous nations. Towns and cities from Germany to Turkey still show traces of the vanished and nearly forgotten ethnic and religious communities that once called these places home.

In Terrible Fate, Benjamin Lieberman describes the violent transformations that occurred in Salonica and hundreds of other towns and cities as the Ottoman, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires collapsed, to be reborn as the modern nation-states we know today. His book is the first comprehensive history of this process that has involved the murder and forced migration of tens of millions of people. Drawing upon eyewitness accounts, contemporary journalism, and diplomatic records, Lieberman’s story sweeps across the continent, taking the reader from ethnic cleansing’s earliest beginnings in Bulgaria, Greece, and Russia in the nineteenth century, through the rise of nationalism, both world wars, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Soviet empire, up to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Along the way he examines the decisive roles of political leaders—not only monarchs and dictators but also those who were democratically elected—as well as ordinary people who often required very little encouragement to rob and brutalize their neighbors, or who were simply caught up in the tide of history.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Lieberman weaves a well-argued narrative around competing themes of nationalism, war, and ethnic cleansing.
Journal Of Genocide Research
It does something original, and actually quite brave. . . . Lieberman's study is highly lucid and accessible.
CHOICE
Lieberman weaves a well-argued narrative around competing themes of nationalism, war, and ethnic cleansing.
Hunt Tooley
Lieberman's narrative of the development of ethnic cleansing is convincing, objective, and readable . . . an outstanding book that needs to be read by all who want to understand the ethnic violence of the modern world.
Cathie Carmichael
A convincing analysis. . . . Highly recommended for students of European History and the general reader.
John Weiss
An excellent study. . . . Lieberman illuminates with great skill and keen analysis.
The Weekly Standard - Deborah E. Lipstadt
Compelling. . . . The only hope for an end to this terrible march of horrors is for people to understand and acknowledge it.
Forward - Noah Strote
If history can aid reconciliation by revealing atrocities, then Lieberman has certainly done more than his fair share with this book.
American Historical Review - Kurt Jonassohn
Raises several important issues in order to impose some analytic rigor.
Nation - Adam LeBor
Lieberman argues persuasively . . . [and] writes about one of the least reported instances of ethnic cleansing in modern history.
Jewish Book World - MND
The analysis and detail make this an important book on an uncharted topic.
Journal of Military History - Hal Elliott Wert
Convincing analysis. . . . [An] important, well-written book.
Choice
Lieberman weaves a well-argued narrative around competing themes of nationalism, war, and ethnic cleansing.
Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Terrible Fate comprehensively illustrates the history of ethnic cleansing in a Europe with extensively shifting borders. . . . Lieberman draws effectively on consular dispatches, newspaper reports, and memoirs to convey cruel realities.
The Historian
Quite suitable for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses. Offers a reliable narrative and the author's approach can generate passionate debate.
American Historical Review
...raises several important issues in order to impose some analytic rigor.
—Kurt Jonassohn
Deborah E. Lipstadt
Compelling.... The only hope for an end to this terrible march of horrors is for people to understand and acknowledge it.
Weekly Standard
Publishers Weekly
The term "ethnic cleansing" is associated with Bosnia and the 1990s, but as Lieberman shows in this original work, the practice has helped shape the demographic face of modern Europe-a result, he says, of the end of the multiethnic Russian, Ottoman, Hapsburg and, most recently, Communist empires and the simultaneous rise of national identity. Indeed, Lieberman makes a convincing argument that one of the major themes of the past 200 years in Europe is ethnic cleansing and the end of multiethnic cities and regions. The book ranges over cases of ethnic violence that are well known (e.g., Nazi Germany) as well as lesser-known episodes, such as the Greek flight from Turkish cities in the 1920s under threat of violence as Turkey became a modern nation-state. While Lieberman, a professor of history at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts, is to be commended for his knowledge of so many cases of ethnically driven violence, he is weaker at setting definitions: what distinguishes peacetime ethnic cleansing, pogroms, genocide and wartime flight? Still, this is a book that will have broad appeal among students of modern Europe and of genocide. (Apr. 14) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566636469
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 4/25/2006
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.88 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Lieberman is professor of history at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts. A graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago, he has also written From Recovery to Catastrophe, a study of Weimar Germany. He lives in Maynard, Massachusetts.
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