I feel like I just struck gold in the research for my historical fiction!
I have amassed so many articles and books and photos and interviews. Still, I felt my mental picture of the time frame when Armenians were subjected to massacres and other forms of brutalization by the Ottoman Turks and the Kurds was disjointed and fuzzy. I wanted to get up close and personal with the Armenians and their lives before coming to America (and other countries).
When most people hear or read about the Armenian genocide, they think 1915-1918. But so much came before and after, and the whole story must be known to understand the impact on the Armenian population—those who perished as well as those who survived, escaped, and migrated to other countries, complete with the physical and emotional scars of their experiences.
And that understanding is essential to creating authentic characters and a wholly credible and moving story.
So what “gold” did I strike?
It’s The Thirty-Year Genocide, by Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi.
The book begins in the nineteenth century Ottoman Empire, describing the lives and hardships for Christian Armenians within territory dominated by Kurdish and Ottoman Empire Moslems. It takes us through the massacres of 1894-1896, followed by the era of the Young Turks–when hope initially was high for a peaceful coexistence between Turks and Armenians, but sadly returned to a policy of genocide, culminating in the most well known massacres, homicidal deportation, forced conversion, mass rape and brutal abduction. The final chapters cover the years from 1918-1924, when the French sacrificed the Armenians, “The Armenians, , , are doomed,” William Dodd wrote to Mark Bristol on April 9, 1920. And within the same time frame came the deportation and murder of the Christian Greeks.
According the book cover, “While not justified under the teachings of Islam, the killing of two million Christians was effected through the calculated exhortation of the Turks to create a pure Muslim nation.”
The book is long and detailed, and in addition to being comprehensive on its own, it has helped bring clarity and connection to the many other resources I’ve devoured on the road to writing my upcoming novel.
My thanks to the authors of The Thirty-Year Genocide.