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In 1915, the Ottoman government, then run by the Young Turks, deported most of its Armenian citizens from their eastern Anatolian lands. According to reliable estimates, close to forty percent of the prewar population perished, many in brutal massacres. Armenians call it the first genocide of the twentieth century. Turks speak of an instance of intercommunal warfare and wartime relocation made necessary by the treasonous conduct of their Armenian minority.
The voluminous literature on this tragic episode of World War I is characterized by acrimony and distortion in which both sides have simplified a complex historical reality and have resorted to partisan special pleading.
The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey examines the rich historical evidence without political preconceptions. Relying on archival materials as well as eye-witness testimony, Guenter Lewy avoids the sterile “was-it-genocide-or-not” debate and presents a detailed account of what actually happened. The result is a book that will open a new chapter in this contentious controversy and may help achieve a long-overdue reconciliation of Armenians and Turks.
|1||Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century||3|
|2||The Armenian revolutionary movement||11|
|3||The massacres of 1894-96||20|
|4||The young Turks take power||30|
|5||The Armenian case (1) : genocidal plans||43|
|6||The Armenian case (2) : the implementation of genocide||63|
|7||The Turkish position||90|
|9||The deportation decision||150|
|10||The course of the deportations||162|
|12||Who were the perpetrators of the massacres?||221|
|13||The number of victims||233|
|14||Conclusion : the question of premeditation||245|
|Epilogue : the politicization of history||258|
Posted December 10, 2005
The large and ever-growing body of literature examining the sad fate of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire is mainly the product of rival factions arguing either for or against the notion that the Ottoman Armenians suffered nothing less than a genocide directly analogous to the Holocaust. A survey of the titles available demonstrates that those who side with the genocide notion numerically exceed those who are not convinced that this is the appropriate word. But the scholarship on neither side is uniformly rigorous and by no means are the conclusions unanimous. Nevertheless, if one reads a lot of these books, as I have,one finds that a majority of the facts of the Armenians' fate are not disputed. The dispute, rather, is who bears ultimate responsibility for the Armenain tragedy, and what to call it? Lewy's book aims at the heart of this dispute. Lewy, neither a Turk nor an Armenian, has undertaken an apparently exhaustive review of the literature and also taken a fresh look at some original sources whose interpretation was long thought settled. His conclusion places him in neither of the rival camps, which will possibly unsettle some readers. But his approach seems correct. As this issue is so heavily laden for both sides (Armenians do not want their ancestors' suffering to be forgotten and Turks do not want to be accused of the highest crime against humanity without reason), it is good to see an author step back and ask just what gaps there are in our knowledge of these events that must be filled in before either side can claim that its interpretation is correct. The gaps, Lewy concludes, are many and provide not only work for future historians, but also, perhaps, a reason for Turks and Armenians to reconcile on the basis of what has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and what is unlikely ever to be proven. A small critcism of Lewy is that he focuses on premeditation. However, premeditation is not an element of the crime of genocide. Lewy amits that he does not want to be constrained by legalistic definitions of genocide, yet I believe he has no choice. That said, if one substitutes the term 'specific intent' where Lewy uses premeditation, the result remains that same and fits within the legal term. In sum, this is an extraordinarily useful and relevant book for anyone inerested in this period of history.
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Posted July 12, 2013
In response to Lowy, quoted: " To our knowledge, Professor Lewy has never sought to deny or minimize the deaths of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey; nor has he sought to minimize the Ottoman regime’s grievous wartime miscalculations or indifference to human misery in a conflict earmarked by widespread civilian suffering on all sides. What he has argued in his book, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, and elsewhere is that the present historical record does not substantiate a premeditated plan by the Ottoman regime to destroy because of ethnicity, religion, or nationality, as opposed to deport for political-military reasons, the Armenian population. In this view, he is joined by such distinguished scholars as Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University. As additional troves of archival information come to light, Professor Lewy advocates greater study of this contentious subject. We deeply regret our errors and offer our sincerest apologies to Professor Lewy."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 14, 2011
Only University of Utah would publish such academic dropping. Not only it housed a whole program sponsored by turkish government, almost all of the lowest of genocide deniers find publishing safe heaven there.
Not too much to comment on the book itself, it has all of the typical features of deniing the truth - the flawed, misconstrued logic, deliberate misrepresentation of facts, paradoxical arrival at wrong answers even from the right facts, ..the whole arsenal of whitewashing.
And all of this under a cover of unbiased (neither turk, nor armenian, as anonymous reviewer mentioned, I wonder who then) academic. A good way to extract money from turks, but at what moral cost? Sorry, this was a rhetoric question not directed at the likes of gunter lewy, not even at the UofU Press.