Important but frustrating revelation of an egregious wrong still not acknowledged, let alone righted.

This passionate, often grueling account of the Turkish massacre of Armenians emphasizes ongoing efforts to seek redress.

Lawyer and journalist Bobelian opens his first book with a painful description of the Ottoman government-sanctioned murder of more than a million Armenians during World War I. Unlike the Holocaust, this was headline news as it happened. Newspapers expressed horror; governments protested; the U.S. government and influential charitable organizations devoted themselves to Armenian relief. In 1918, the Allies forced the defeated Turks to try those responsible, but the government dragged its feet until occupation forces withdrew. Later, Armenian nationalists murdered several key officials, but the new Turkish nation erased the genocide from its history and still vehemently denies that it occurred. As a potential market during the 1920s and bulwark against communism during the Cold War, Turkey became an important U.S. ally. American leaders repeatedly expressed doubt that the genocide occurred, and Congress defeated a resolution supporting Armenian aims as late as 1990. His people lack the numbers and political clout of Jews fighting for Holocaust victims, notes Bobelian, so Armenian victories have been pitiful in comparison. In recent years, U.S. and European governments have denounced the genocide, but it seems unlikely matters will proceed further. Bobelian holds up Germany’s apology and reparations for the Holocaust as a reasonable goal, but he neglects to add that this behavior is unique. Nations guilty of terrible atrocities, including present-day Japan, Russia, China and Serbia, generally refuse to admit them, and Turkey is unlikely to break the mold.

Important but frustrating revelation of an egregious wrong still not acknowledged, let alone righted.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5725-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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