NEW YORK–Never before in English, Armenian Golgotha is the most comprehensive and dramatic eyewitness account of the twentieth century’s first genocide. It sheds light on the Armenian Genocide as no other book has done.
On April 24, 1915, Grigoris Balakian, an Armenian Apostolic priest, was arrested along with some 250 other intellectuals and leaders of Constantinople’s Armenian community. During the next four years, he bears witness to the countless deportation caravans of Armenia’s, tortured, raped, or slaughtered and subsequently mutilated on their way to death in the Syrian deserts; through the testimony of many survivors, foreign witnesses, and Turkish officials involved in the extermination; and also to some brave, righteous Turks and their German allies who resisted secret extermination orders.
Miraculously, Balakian manages to escape, and his flight–through forest and over mountain, in disguise as a railroad worker and then as a German’soldier–is a suspenseful, harrowing odyssey that makes possible his singular testimony.
Advance praise for Armenian Golgotha speaks to the memoir’s great historical importance as well as to Balakian’s gripping eyewitness narrative.
“Read this heartbreaking book. Armenian Golgotha describes the suffering, agony, and massacre of innumerable Armenian families almost a century ago; its memory must remain a lesson for more than one generation,” said Ellie Wiesel.
“Grigoris Balakian’s Armenian Golgotha is a powerful, moving account of the Armenian Genocide, a story that needs to be known, and is told here with a sweep of experience and wealth of detail that is as disturbing as it is irrefutable,” said Sir Martin Gilbert.
“In this extraordinary account, Grigoris Balakian makes astute psychological observations about himself and his fellow prisoners, and equally astute interpretations of the behavior of Turkish perpetrators and German collaborators in the Armenian Genocide,” explained Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. “His writing is clear and compelling, as rendered in sensitive translation. He has a keen sense of history, and his extensive travels enable him to record a tragic European panorama. This book will become a classic, both for its depiction of a much denied genocide and its humane and brilliant witness to what human beings can endure and overcome.”
“The translation and publication of Armenian Golgotha in English is long overdue. It constitutes a thundering proof that those who deny the Armenian Genocide are engaged in a massive deception,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory
“The first English translation of a seminal personal account of the first modern genocide;Balakian survived to write this memoir, which combines extensive research, an account of his own experiences and testimony from eyewitnesses, both victims and perpetrators. Poet, memoirist and Armenian holocaust historian Peter Balakian, Grigoris’s great-nephew, collaborated with professional translator Sevag to render the blistering Armenian text into modern English,” said the Kirkus Reviews.
The recovery of Armenian Golgotha is also an extraordinary story. Since it had been published in 1922 it had remained available only in Armenian, and it wasn’t until 1991 that Peter Balakian first learned of his uncle’s memoir through a chain of circumstances he describes in his prize-winning memoir Black Dog of Fate (just reissued in a 10th anniversary edition). After a ten-year translation and editing project, now Peter Balakian with Aris Sevag has brought this story into an elegant edition in English.
Full of shrewd insights into the political, historical, and cultural context of the Armenian Genocide–the template for the subsequent genocides that cast a shadow across the twentieth century and beyond–Armenian Golgotha is destined to become a classic of survivor literature.