The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide

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University of Utah Press, Nov 30, 2005 - History - 370 pages
Utah Series in Middle East Studies

In 1915, the Ottoman government, then run by the Young Turks, deported most of its Armenian citizens from their eastern Anatolian lands. According to reliable estimates, close to forty percent of the prewar population perished, many in brutal massacres. Armenians call it the first genocide of the twentieth century. Turks speak of an instance of intercommunal warfare and wartime relocation made necessary by the treasonous conduct of their Armenian minority.

The voluminous literature on this tragic episode of World War I is characterized by acrimony and distortion in which both sides have simplified a complex historical reality and have resorted to partisan special pleading.

The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey examines the rich historical evidence without political preconceptions. Relying on archival materials as well as eye-witness testimony, Guenter Lewy avoids the sterile “was-it-genocide-or-not” debate and presents a detailed account of what actually happened. The result is a book that will open a new chapter in this contentious controversy and may help achieve a long-overdue reconciliation of Armenians and Turks.


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Instead of trying to look at consistencies of arguments, the author simply tries to avoid many important questions. For example, Taner Akcam in his review of this book says that Lewy puts the blame for the death of Armenians on gangs, brigands, Kurds, local-central separation or corrupt and criminal gendarmes, while ignoring Interior Ministry policy during those years.
The author also dismisses arguments that would likely bring an end to the debate, like the post-war trials of CUP leaders and the most-famous Andonian documents.
A true balanced historian would actually study the documents, statements, testimonies, see if they are consistent with state archives and other sources of documentation, and then decide whether they can be relied upon or are complete forgeries.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Guenter Lewy's book is a clever, yet misguided and dangerous example of genocide denial.
The Armenian Genocide is an accepted historical fact by the overwhelming majority of Holocaust and genocide
scholars around the world, including the International Association of Genocide Scholars, The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), and the Institute for the Study of Genocide (NYC). 


II Two Rival Historiographies
What We Know and What We Do Not Know
IV The State of the Controversy
Abbreviations and Glossary
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About the author (2005)

Guenter Lewy is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

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