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Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide

Posted: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 at 02:31 PM CT


Book Details

Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; (February 1999)
Dimensions (in inches): 0.88 x 8.99 x 6.08
ISBN: 0520219562

Book Description

Between 1915 and 1923, over one million Armenians died, victims of a genocidal campaign that is still denied by the Turkish government. Thousands of other Armenians suffered torture, brutality, deportation-yet their story has received scant attention. Through interviews with a hundred elderly Armenians, Donald and Lorna Miller give the "forgotten genocide" the hearing it deserves. Survivors raises important issues about genocide and about how people cope with traumatic experience. Much here is wrenchingly painful, yet it also speaks to the strength of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Combining a compelling oral history with a trenchant analysis of the first major genocide of the 20th century, this moving study focuses on the Turkish murder of more than one million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 in a systematic campaign of mass deportations, slaughter, forced labor and starvation. The Millers, a husband-and-wife team--he is a sociologist of religion at the University of Southern California, she is the daughter of survivors of the genocide--present formidable documentary evidence that this holocaust was the result of an ultranationalist Turkish government's deliberate plan to exterminate the Armenians (still denied by Turkish officials). Their interviews with 100 survivors of the genocide are organized to illustrate specific themes such as the imprisonment and torture of Armenian leaders, life in orphanages (which cradled a new generation of Armenians) and the psychological traumas that continue to afflict survivors in nightmares and waking moments.

From Library Journal

The Armenian genocide of 1915 is one of the few systematic atrocities of the 20th century that has yet to be fully acknowledged. Committed in a remote corner of the world during World War I, it has been regularly denied by successive Turkish governments and never truly mourned by the world community. In this book, Donald Miller (religion, Univ. of Southern California) and Lorna Miller, whose parents survived the massacre, recall the event in a painfully moving and objective testament to all those who suffered and died. Their work is impressive in its scope and methodology; over 100 elderly survivors were interviewed. Balanced and objective throughout, the book attempts to deal succinctly with survivor reactions over time and offers poignant reflections on the birth of the new Armenian republic in the wake of the Soviet collapse. An excellent work; recommended for all libraries. - Joseph W. Constance Jr., St. Anselm Coll. Lib., Manchester, N.H.

Firoz Kazemzadeh, New York Times Book Review

"The Millers . . . do not attempt to distance themselves from their material and do not conceal their involvement with the survivors. Yet they are fair in their judgments and do not suppress evidence of the humanity and kindness to the Armenians of many Turks who opposed the deportation and bloodshed. . . . Provides additional evidence, if such is needed, of one of the greatest tragedies of modern history."

New York Times

"The memories collected by the Millers are more than 70 years old, but the recollections of the survivors are vivid. . . . [The] book provides additional evidence, if such is needed, of one of the great tragedies of modern history." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

FFrom Kirkus Reviews

The first genocide of the 20th century took place in Turkey in 1915 when some 1.5 million Armenians were deported from their birthplace and massacred. Here, the Millers (he: Sociology/University of Southern California; she: Director/Office for Creative Connections, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena) have collected more than one hundred oral histories from survivors of the atrocities. Their testimony, organized thematically, is shocking and poignant. The various eyewitness accounts show how Armenians, believing that they were being deported only temporarily, went docilely to their fates. Men were shot or brutally murdered by hatchets and axes. Women and children died mostly from attrition, as guards denied them water and as they starved during the hundreds of miles of enforced marches. The survivors speak of rotting corpses and babies' skeletons strewn along their path. Mothers faced terrible choices about which children to save; were raped as their children watched; saw their daughters abducted by Turks and Kurds. The authors point out that the Turkish government continues to deny that the Armenian genocide took place, even though the scrupulously presented paper evidence here--missionaries' eyewitness reports, letters from diplomats on the scene, official government accounts, etc.--corroborates the oral testimony. As welcome relief, the Millers also include examples of kindness by a few ``good Turks'' who risked their lives to help deportees, as well as touching scenes of rehabilitations in orphanages and at family reunions. A valuable contribution to the growing literature on the Armenian genocide. (Eighteen photos and one map, plus a fine bibliography, copious footnotes, and useful appendices)

Kirkus Reviews

"Shocking and poignant."

From the Back Cover

"A superb work of scholarship and a deeply moving human document. . . . A unique work, one that will serve truth, understanding, and decency." (Roger W. Smith, College of William and Mary) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Donald E. Miller is Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California and the author of Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the New Millennium (California, 1997). Lorna ouryan Miller is Director of the Office for Creative Connections at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. Her parents survived the Armenian genocide.


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