Monday, 23 March 2015

The Centenary of the Armenian Genocide - 24 April 2015

In January this year, Amal Clooney (George Clooney's wife) went before Europe's top human rights court to represent Armenia against a Turkish politician found guilty of denying that the Armenian genocide ever happened.   There is still widespread denial from the Turkish that the 'genocide' took place and even rationalise killing of Armenians at the time as a 'retaliative' response to their rebellious and aggressive actions towards the Ottoman State.  Hopefully any publicity will contribute to bringing an end to this senseless denial of atrocities instigated by the Turkish leaders.

On April 24, 2015 Armenians will commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide. Up to 1.5 million were slaughtered. Many were forced to convert to Islam. However conversion didn't save them and as the momentum of killings intensified few escaped.

Reading the accounts of torture and murder from a hundred years ago I couldn't help thinking about the victims being subjected to just the same depravity today in this troubled world and that how, depressingly, history continues to repeat itself. The 

There will still be those who deny the atrocities, and there will be others who will be horrified and sickened by the detailed description of brutality, torture and murder done to these people. Therefore, it is imperative that we heed and do not ignore these warning signs from the past.

Publications due for release to commemorate the centenary are:
Operation Nemesis by Eric BogosianSacred Justice by Marian Mescrobian MacCurdy;
"They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else": A History of the Armenian Genocide (Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity) By Ronald Grigor Suny;
An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians? By Geoffrey Robertson;
The Great Fire: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century 's First Genocide by Lou Ureneckand a graphic novel by Josh Blaylock called Operation Nemesis: A Story of Genocide & Revenge.

Sacred Justice: The Voices and Lagacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis- Armenian Studies Series by Marian Mescrobian MacCurdy

Sacred Justice: The Voices and Lagacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis- Armenian Studies Series by Marian Mescrobian MacCurdy
Page Length: 363
ISBN: 978-1412855037
Source: Publisher (e-copy)
Publisher: Transaction Publishers (30 March, 2015)

Sacred Justice is a cross-genre book that uses narrative, memoir, unpublished letters, and other primary and secondary sources to tell the story of a group of Armenian men who organized Operation Nemesis, a covert operation created to assassinate the Turkish architects of the Armenian Genocide. The leaders of Operation Nemesis took it upon themselves to seek justice for their murdered families, friends, and compatriots.

This book includes a large collection of previously unpublished letters that show the strategies, personalities, plans, and dedication of Soghomon Tehlirian, who killed Talaat Pasha, a genocide leader; Shahan Natalie, the agent on the ground in Europe; Armen Garo, the center of Operation Nemesis; Aaron Sachaklian, the logistics and finance officer; and others involved with Nemesis.

The author tells a story that has been either hidden by the necessity of silence or ignored in spite of victims’ narratives. This is the story of those who attempted to seek justice for the victims and the effect this effort had on them and on their families. The book shows how the narratives of resistance and trauma can play out in the next generation and how resistance can promote resilience. Little has been written about Operation Nemesis. As we approach the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it is time.

MY THOUGHTS: Sacred Justice

On the death of her mother, Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy became the custodian of the private  and correspondence of her grandfather Aaron Sachaklian.  It is from this collection of  previously unpublished and original source material that Marian compiled her book.

Through the private letters between Aaron and his wife Elisa we are privy to an intimate account of their relationship.  What it must have been like for them during Aaron's long absences while he secretly helped to mastermind 'Operation Nemesis' and Elisa's struggle to cope alone in a strange new country, during her pregnancies and births of their children.

Marian shares memories of her grandfather, a happy, jovial family man and it is hard to imagine that this personable man who took great pride in himself and who took pleasure in his children, was also at the same time able to distance himself to coordinate and organise retributional killings. Additional letters found show us that Sachaklian and the assassins suffered tremendously, first for the loss of family and compatriots and then for their part in the assassinations. They suffered in silence to deliver justice to the killers, the only retribution the Armenians have seen to date.

'Sacred Justice' reads like a taut spy thriller and invokes vivid images of the people and what they endured.

Eric Bogosian, author of 'Operation Nemesis', said of 'Sacred Justice', “There are rare revelations in this book that cannot be found anywhere else.”

highly recommend 'Sacred Justice' for anyone interested in the subject, and because of the wealth of new source material valuable to students studying the history of genocide.

Sacred Justice is one of three books to be published this year with Operation Nemesis by Eric Bogosian  being the second.  The final being a graphic novel by Josh Blaylock called Operation Nemesis: A Story of Genocide & Revenge is due to be published in April 2015.

Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot That Avenged the Armenian Genocide by Eric Bogosian

Operation Nemesis by Eric Bogosian
Print Length: 288 pages
Source: Publisher (e-copy)
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (21 April 2015)

A masterful account of the conspiracy of assassins that hunted down the perpetrators of a genocideIn 1921, a small group of self-appointed patriots set out to avenge the deaths of almost one million victims of the Armenian Genocide. They named their operation Nemesis after the Greek goddess of retribution. Over several years, the men tracked down and assassinated former Turkish leaders. The story of this secret operation has never been fully told until now.

Eric Bogosian goes beyond simply telling the story of this cadre of Armenian assassins to set the killings in context by providing a summation of the Ottoman and Armenian history as well as the history of the genocide itself. Casting fresh light on one of the great crimes of the twentieth century and one of history's most remarkable acts of political retribution, and drawing upon years of new research across multiple continents, NEMESIS is both a riveting read and a profound examination of evil, revenge, and the costs of violence.

MY THOUGHTS: Operation Nemesis
Eric Bogosian gives an informative insight to Turkey, and of its historical relationship with, or tolerance of, its Armenian citizens. He then follows by telling the story of Soghomon Tehlirian an assassin who seeks to avenge the murder of his family. Tehlirian, himself is a survivor of the deportations and mass murders losing all but one member of his family.  His soul purpose in life thereafter is to hunt down and kill those responsible.

The story is all the more captivating as there are some incredibly distressing and horrific scenes recounted. Some so harrowing and depressing that at times I found it hard to continue reading. Fortunately, I persevered and was engrossed as the narrative concentrated on Tehrilan's obsessive, pursuit of his targets.

Using new material and memoirs Operation Nemesis reads like a gripping espionage thriller.  I had to remind myself that it was non fiction and not a novel penned by Graeme Green or John LeCarre.

Utterly compelling and staggeringly well written. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

KOLYMSKY HEIGHTS by Lionel Davidson

This one looks like it could be my next favourite read. I'm really excited about reading 'Kolymsky Heights' by Lionel Davidson, published by Faber & Faber and released today, 18 March 2015.

The Waterstones 'exclusive' arrived in store this afternoon and I was immediately drawn to the cover and after reading the blurb just cannot wait to get reading it.

It's already caused a bit of a buzz amongst our booksellers in our other stores so I guess it's also destined to be a winner with other book readers.

Kolymsky Heights is not a new publication, it was originally released in 1995 and received great reviews but seems to have fallen by the wayside until Phillip Pullman rediscovered it and said it was the best thriller he's ever read. Huge praise indeed and I'm so looking forward to what promises to be an exciting adventure.  I'll post a review when I've read it.

Please note that the book cover shown is an exclusive to Waterstones.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg
Hardcover: 350 pages
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY) (16 Sept. 2014)
Source: Review copy (digital) from Publisher

Book Synopsis:
An Afghan woman's life expectancy is just 44 years, and her life cycle often begins and ends in disappointment: being born a girl and finally, having a daughter of her own. For some, disguising themselves as boys is the only way to get ahead. Nordberg follows women such as Azita Rafaat, a parliamentarian who once lived as a Bacha Posh, the mother of seven-year-old Mehran, who she is raising as a Bacha Posh as well, but for different reasons than in the past. There's Zahra, a teenage student living as a boy who is about to display signs of womanhood as she enters puberty. And Skukria, a hospital nurse who remained in a Bacha Posh disguise until she was twenty, and who now has three children of her own. Exploring the historical roots of this tradition, The Underground Girls of Kabul is a fascinating and moving investigation.

My Thoughts:
'The Underground Girls of Kabul' by Jenny Nordberg is an immensely informative, insightful and compelling read. Nordberg obviously did extensive research on the practice in Afghanistan of 'basha posh'.  I was not aware of the practice but not surprised.
Having lived in the Middle East I can appreciate a little of the difficulties muslim women face daily living in this often oppressive, male dominated environment.  A woman's life outside the home is practically impossible without a male family member to escort them and I understand the necessity for the compromise in order to be able to get things done, or simply be respected.

The reportage is intelligently written in a compelling, non judgmental manner and brings to light the cultural and religious reasons, benefits and disadvantages of having, and being a 'basha posh'.

Highly recommended.

I would like to thank the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this enlightening, outstanding title.