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MERCHANTS TO MAGNATES, INTRIGUE AND SURVIVAL: Armenians in London, 1900-2000

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by Joan George / with foreward by Christopher J. Walker

Armenians have been visibly present in Britain for more than 100 years. They have appeared in many guises - as engineers, doctors, intellectuals, financiers, carpet dealers, musicians or political refugees. London has been the main place of settlement, though Manchester was more important in the late nineteenth century. They have become partly assimilated, yet usually stayed distinct, in a manner which one could call exemplary in these days when the issue of multi-cultural-ism is debated...
World War I was the most critical, and indeed appalling and shocking, time for Armenians. The picture of the community in London during 1914-18 is strongly painted: committees, relief activities, and speeches. Joan George also makes us aware of the Armenian presence in Britain in World War II. We come across  Noel Agazarian who became a flying ace in the Battle of Britain, and his brother Jack, a member of SOE.
The Armenian presence in Britain can perhaps be summed up as resembling an array of different streams flowing into the broad, occasionally diverse, arcane and alternative river, which is British national life. Sometimes they have created a riff of turbulence; more often they have engaged creatively with existing British qualities.

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