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Armenian Golgotha

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Never before in English, Armenian Golgotha is the most dramatic and comprehensive eyewitness account of the first modern genocide.

On April 24, 1915, the priest Grigoris Balakian was arrested along with some 250 other intellectuals and leaders of Constantinople’s Armenian community. It was the beginning of the Ottoman Turkish government’s systematic attempt to eliminate the...more
Hardcover, 509 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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ETA: I think, in a nutshell, that this is the MOST comprehensive of all the books I have read about the Armenian genocide, but not the most fun to read. I am not religious. I objected to some part of the book for this reason. I felt that some parts simply did not make sense! I would think: what do you mean with that paragraph. However his description of Berlin when the war began, and how he escaped, and as a summary of all that happened to the Armenians, all of these things I liked a lot.

BUT I...more

On April 24, 1915, some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were arrested in Constantinople. Grigoris Balakian, a Christian vartabed, or priest, was among them. "It was as if all the prominent Armenian public figures—assemblymen, representatives, revolutionaries, editors, teachers, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, merchants, bankers, and others in the capital city—had made an appointment to meet in these dim prison cells," he later wrote. Balak...more
Daniel Anderson
Armenian Golgotha is an eye witness account of the diabolical systematic genocide inflicted by the Ottoman Turkish government on the Christian Armenian people during World War I. The author Grigoris Balakian a priest in the Armenian Apostolic Church was one of the many intellectuals forced to leave his homeland and people at the hands of the Turkish government in 1915. This book translated by Balakian’s great nephew Peter Balakian chronicles the atrocities witnessed by Grigoris Balakian as he an...more
Christopher Rex
What an amazing book and what an amazing man at its center. The only drawback to this incredible memoir is the length. The reality is, the author endured, witnessed and overcame so much during the Armenian Genocide that I am unsure how it could be effectively shortened without sacrificing the story. Also, he clearly had a mission to tell as many details of as many people and incidents as possible in order to "honor" their memory and to insure that their memories were not erased from history (as...more
Armenian Golgotha was a fantastic book that provided a moving first-hand account of the Armenian genocide of 1915. Unfortunately, it was such a heavy topic that I had a hard time getting through it. The first 250 pages are dedicated to Balakian's deportation under the most deplorable conditions imaginable. After that, it follows his escape from the Turks via disguise and deception. A tough read, but an important text.
Jeni Enjaian
As the translators (including the author's great-grandnephew) mentioned in the preface, Balakian often waxes eloquent turning passages of history into sermons. Even so, I appreciated this massive memoir for the insight it gave into the story of an Armenian intellectual who managed to survive the Genocide. For an amateur (master's degree level) historian on the topic, this book proved a tremendous resource.
Wow, the Truth exists despite turkish claims. A first hand account of the genocide that happened all too recent ago. How in the world is this turkish society not prepared to admit it and the world turn its back and ignore it? Lord, we have met the enemy and he is us.
Erma Odrach
This is an eyewitness account of the Turkish government's (which they deny to this day) persecution and murder of over a milion Armenians in 1915 - one of the biggest mass-murders of the past century. Very sad, emotional and gripping. Really enjoyed the writing.
Steve Cran
While studying in Germany at a theological seminary in Berlin, Grigoris Balakian, found himself getting caught up in the days events. Events in Austria-Hungary and Serbia started the war. Turkey and Germany were on the same side. In the midst of his studies Grigoris Balakian is summoned back to Turkey. While making his way back Grigoris make several poignant observations. The Germans mistreat people of foreign decent, especially if they are from enemy countries. Taking the ship back Grigoris rea...more
A gripping and often harrowing first-hand account of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1918.

Although I never doubted the veracity of Balakian's memoir, his prejudices and biases were obvious.
He states that the genocide was "in the in the name of the Koran, in the name of jihad" and that the massacred Armenians where "martyrs". At the same time he says "the Turks had always burned, broken, destroyed, violated, and massacred the Arabs, Albanians, Circassians, and Persians under their dominion, even th...more
Given recent history, it would seem the term "ethnic cleansing" is of late 20th Century origin. Armenian Golgotha , Grigoris Balakian's firsthand account of the Armenian genocide during World War I, disabuses any such notion. Balakian, an Armenian priest, notes several times that the Ottoman Empire embarked on an intentional campaign to "cleanse" itself of Armenians.

Even though this April marked the 95th anniversary of the beginning of this particular persecution of Armenians, whether to call wh...more
In 1915, Grigoris Balakian was a forty year old priest of the Armenian Apostolic Church living in Constantinople. On April 24th of that year, he was among the approximately 250 leaders of Constantinople’s Armenian community that were arrested, imprisoned and deported in what is now regarded as the start of the Armenian Genocide. Less than a third of those arrested that night [writers, poets, teachers, clergymen, journalists, doctors, dentists, booksellers and various other prominent Armenian pub...more
Although I didn't feel my pulse racing while I read this, I guess this must be a powerful work of memoir, because in my first (now abandoned) draft of this review I attempted to assault the Ottoman Empire with an unabridged dictionary. I had a nice lie down, and realized that the overwhelming majority of potential readers of this review will already be aware that massacres and holocaust denial are BAD, so it was not really necessary to tell them so again. As for the others, they're probably beyo...more
Megan Blood
Unfortunately, this was the book that put me past my Armenian Genocide saturation point. It's very, very long. I would say needlessly long, but I understand that, as a witness to the genocide, he was acting as a faithful recorder of EVERYTHING that happened. So I was willing to excuse that. What really got to me was the stereotyping. ALL Armenians (with the exception of one or two traitors) were angelic martyrs, doing no wrong. ALL Turks (with very, very few exceptions) were either bloodthirsty...more
This is definitely the "go to" book if you want to learn about the mind boggling experience of the Armenian genocide, 1915. This is Balakian's eyewitness account of his struggle to stay alive as more than a million Armenians were systematically murdered by the Turks during the years of World War I. Some passages are so graphic that your mind fights accepting these truths. It is an amazing story, admittedly journaled and retold so that the world would know the truth of this genocide. Read it for...more
Sometimes gripping firsthand account of the Armenian genocide. The saintliness ascribes to the Armenian people (with the exception of a handful of traitors in Istanbul) is excessive, but Balakian's account of the forced death marches, and his escape is harrowing.
Sep 09, 2012 Joshua added it
well written, fascinating first hand telling of the little known Turkish genocide committed against the Armenian people.
James Asante
Really? Humans actually do this to other humans? I will never understand, but we should never forget.
Didn't get through it - too violent and depressing.
eye-opening is beyond an understatement.
Mary Ann
why did Constantinople get the works?
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