Identifying the Ottomans’ decisive choices, Suny creates a compelling narrative of vengeance and terror.




An authoritative examination of unspeakable horrors.

A century after the elimination of millions of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire, Suny (History/Univ. of Michigan; The Structure of Soviet History: Essays and Documents, 2013, etc.) unequivocally calls the event “genocide,” as distinguished from ethnic cleansing, purges and other forms of mass killing. “Genocide,” he writes, “is not the murder of people but the murder of a people.” His deeply researched, fair-minded study probes the “two separate, contradictory narratives” of the event that still persist: the Turkish denial of genocide, representing the killings as a rational response to a rebellious, traitorous population that threatened the survival of the state; and Armenian characterization of the tragedy as the ferocious determination of imperialist Turkish Muslims to rid the empire of non-Muslims. Drawing on archival sources, Suny, whose great-grandparents were victims of the massacre, thoroughly traces “the genealogy of attitudes and behaviors” and the historical context “that triggered a deadly, pathological response to real and imagined immediate and future dangers.” For hundreds of years, he writes, Armenians, although subjects of the Muslim state, were integrated into a multinational empire. As nationalist and reform movements arose in the 19th century, however, Ottoman rulers legitimized their position by identifying certain populations—in this case, non-Muslim Armenians, Greeks and Jews—as inferior, devious and subversive. Armenian intellectuals’ affinity for European ideas and “a powerful sense of secular nationality” made the ethnic group especially suspect. Late in the century, Armenians’ victimization by Ottomans came to the attention of European powers, which further fueled Muslims’ conception of them as alien and alienated. From 1894-1896, extensive massacres intimated what would occur later, when the militant Young Turks envisioned an ethnonational state that required the extermination of non-Turks, a policy exacerbated by social, political and economic chaos at the start of World War I.

Identifying the Ottomans’ decisive choices, Suny creates a compelling narrative of vengeance and terror.

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-691-14730-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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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

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