The Knock at the Door: A Journey through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide

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In 1915, Armenian Christians in Turkey were forced to convert to Islam, barred from speaking their language, and often driven out of their homes as the Turkish army embarked on a widespread campaign of intimidation and murder. In this riveting book, Margaret Ajemian Ahnert relates her mother Ester's terrifying experiences as a young woman during this period of hatred and brutality. At age 15, Ester was separated from her family during a forced march away from her birth town of Amasia. Though she faced unspeakable horrors at the hands of many she met, and was forced into an abusive marriage against her will, she never lost her faith, quick wit, or ability to see the good in people. Eventually she escaped and emigrated to America. Ahnert's compelling account of her mother's suffering is framed by an intimate portrait of her relationship with her 98-year-old mother. Ester's inspiring stories, told lovingly by her daughter, will give you a window into the harrowing struggle of Armenians during a terrible period in human history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This personal, homespun account by an American of Armenian descent interweaves two narratives in alternating chapters: Ahnert's mother Ester's firsthand description of coming-of-age during, and miraculously surviving, the Turkish-sponsored Armenian genocide of 1915, and the middle-aged author's own tender yet urgent reflections on her connection to the distant world of her 98-year-old mother. Ester's formidable personality, humor and abiding religious faith pervade Ahnert's debut, while the latter's fluid transcription of Ester's story provides a frank and searing testimony, as well as a vivid depiction of Armenian village life. While Ahnert's oral history doesn't offer a rigorous historical account or analysis of the systematic slaughter, but rather supplements works like Peter Balakian's The Burning Tigrisand Taner Akcam's A Shameful Act, its force lies in the interplay between the narratives of mother and daughter. Together, their stories realize in intimate but accessible terms the vagaries of historical memory and Ester's determination to tell the truth despite the understandable urge among some victims to forget in the face of an official policy of denial from Turkey that continues today.. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780825305122
  • Publisher: Beaufort Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/24/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 996,256
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Ahnert was born in New York City in 1938. Growing up, she loved to hear her mother's stories about her own childhood during the Armenian genocide in Turkey. She has a BA from Goddard College, and an MA from Goucher College. She has pursued a variety of careers: producing television documentaries, co-owning a hotel in Pennsylvania, acting as a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and teaching art appreciation in high schools and elementary schools.

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Table of Contents

Prologue     xiii
A Paper Crown     1
Early Memories     13
The Bride has No Underwear On     31
Growing Up in Amasia     36
The Day My Father Died     59
Signs of Unrest     67
The Eternal Flame     80
The Knock at the Door     87
The Evil Eye     102
Boud-a-Getchere     109
Rockaway Beach     123
Life with Shamil     131
Eagle on a Perch     149
The Escape     157
Dinner with a Turk     178
Journey to America     186
Epilogue     198
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