GLENDALE–On the occasion of the publication of "The Armenian People-From Ancient to Modern Times," Dr. Richard Hovannisian–Professor of History at the University of California–Los Angeles and editor if the new publication–met with readers and community members on Saturday at the invitation of Sardarabad Bookstore in Glendale.
The book signing and discussion began at 5:30 p.m.–with the participation of more than 50 attendees–who lined up to have their copies of the book signed by Hovannisian. "The Armenian People," published by St. Martin’s Press–is the culmination of many years of work and the gathering of pieces authored by 17 renowned scholars in various fields of Armenian studies.
According to scholars–this two-volume publication represents a significant stride in Armenian studies–because never before have the various aspects of Armenian history been published in a concise format–which can be used by students of the discipline.
Opening remarks were made by Sardarabad manager Rita Demirdjian–who invited Prof. Stepan Astourian to introduce Hovannisian. Astourian outlined the 18 years of relentless effort on behalf of the writers and Hovannisian in reaching the point of publication. The significance of the volumes–Astourian maintained–is the extensive study of Armenian history collected into one publication–which now–at the end of the 20th century can be regarded as a work of monumental importance.
Astourian went on to point out that the number of scholars in Armenian studies is small–and therefore such a publication carries much more weight considering the circumstances of its initiation and conclusion. He emphasized the pivotal role Hovannisian has played in the process–calling him a pioneer with much perseverance–who has been able to work with a diverse group of experts to bring to life this book.
The UCLA professor continued speaking about the book in the context of the Armenian Cause–stressing the integral role "Armenian People" will play in countering Turkish propaganda efforts at US universities. He touched on the controversial issue of Turkey’s donation to UCLA–urging the attendees to write and call public officials in protest of the institution’s consideration of establishing a Turkish and Ottoman Studies Chair.
In his remarks–Hovannisian thanked Sardarabad for organizing the evening. The renowned scholar told the gathered that since 1962–when he first taught Armenian history at UCLA–this is the first term his students have been able to rely on a textbook for the discipline. Hovannisian–then–spoke about the content of the book–stressing the difficult task of putting together a book of writings by 17 different scholars.
He also pointed out that from among the writers–it was only Hagop Barsoumian–who was not able to see his work published in the book–as he was the victim of an unsolved kidnapping in 1986 in Beirut.
Hovannisian described the various portions of the two volumes–beginning with a geographical study of Armenia–leading into the formation of the Armenian nation–followed by the various dynasties and kingdoms.
The literary tradition and culture of the Armenian people is examined–and the history is traced through various empires including the Seljuk and Mongol periods–up to the Medieval times.
The second volume picks up in the 14th Century–examining the Armenian Diaspora in Eastern Europe–whereafter Eastern Armenia is presented in the 17th Century. Russian rule–modern Armenian literature and intellectual history and the Eastern Question are followed in the next chapters.
The Ottoman Empire–World War I and the Armenian Genocide are then examined as the pivotal points of modern Armenian history.
The Republic of Armenia–Soviet Armenia–and the Armenian Diaspora conclude this extensive study of the Armenian people.
Scholars included in the first volume are Robert He. Hewsen–James Russell–Nina Garsoian–Robert Thomson–Robert Bedrosian–Ani Atamian Bournoutian and Peter Cowe.
The second volume includes Dickran Kouymjian–Krikor Maksoudian–George Bournoutian–Ronald Grigor Suny–Vahe Oshagan–Hagop Barsoumian–Christopher J. Walker–Robert Mirak–R. Hrair Dekmejian and two chapters by Hovannisian.