CARAVANS TO OBLIVION: The Armenian Genocide, 1915
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CARAVANS TO OBLIVION: The Armenian Genocide, 1915

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By G.S. Graber

Acclaimed author and historian G. S. Graber has crafted a searing narrative of "the forgotten genocide." Using newly available sources, Graber offers definitive proof—denied even today by the Turkish government—that there was nothing less than a centrally organized government attempt to systematically eliminate the Armenian population in 1915.

Placing the events of this effort within a broader historical context, the author brings insight and perspective to the political, economic, and cultural upheaval that led to the murder of over one million Armenian men, women, and children. Firsthand accounts recall the climate that ignited the flames of anti-Armenian sentiment as the Ottoman Empire collapsed and a new leadership emerged. The political party of the Young Turks, Ittihad ve Teraki (the Turkish Committee of Union and Progress), espoused the notion of Turanism, a mythic glorification of Turkish ethnic identity, and was devoted to restoring Turkey's shattered national pride. And even though Armenians had distinguished themselves as productive and loyal citizens in times of peace and able-bodied soldiers in times of war, they were now branded as traitorous enemies, destroying Turkey from within.

The tragic fate of the Armenian people would be sealed by the political maneuvering of foreign powers eager to capitalize on the fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Graber examines how and why the West—principally France and Great Britain—was eager to look the other way. Following a pattern that the engineers of modern genocide would repeat time and time again, the Turks systematically gathered Armenian men and used them as slave labor before executing them en masse. The women and children were then packed into caravans for "relocation." Most would die along the way from disease and exposure. Those who survived would be shot on some arid plain, which would become their final destination.

The slaughter of the Armenians, and the diplomatic backsliding that precipitated it, would serve as an all-too-efficient blueprint. In the twentieth century, genocides decimated over 119 million people worldwide—84 million more than the number who died in both world wars and all the revolutions and civil wars fought in this century combined. More than a compelling chronicle, Caravans to Oblivion offers chilling insight into how genocide happens.

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (1996)