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A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  332 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A landmark assessment of Turkish culpability in the Armenian genocide, the first history of its kind by a Turkish historian
In 1915, under the cover of a world war, some one million Armenians were killed through starvation, forced marches, forced exile, and mass acts of slaughter. Although Armenians and world opinion have held the Ottoman powers responsible, Turkey has con
Hardcover, 483 pages
Published November 14th 2006 by Metropolitan Books
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Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it

First of all, I would like to whisper this to those potential members who are Armenian or come from Armenian background: I am a Turk and I can tell you safely that the number of us who know about this barbaric act in our national history and feel utterly ashamed about it is increasing. Please do not think that Taner Akcam is alone.

Understandably, this book is quite challenging for those of you who are not familiar with Turkish history -not surprising that some of the members' reviews mentioned t
Jeni Enjaian
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I did not know that a book like this on the Armenian Genocide written by a Turk existed so when I found it I knew I had to read it. I was completely blown away. I understand the complaint that I've read in other reviews that the author's almost obsessive need to document every detail about the lead up to and cover up of the Genocide was off putting. For me as a Master's in History student with a thesis topic of the Genocide this book proved immensely valuable. I am deeply indebted to the author' ...more
Many books and much of the writing concerning the Armenian question claim that the Armenians under Ottoman rule lived in a state of peace and tranquility until the nineteenth century.

Armenian genocide: Thousands march around world to commemorate and demand recognition for atrocity. Anniversary comes one day after prime minister resigns following nearly two weeks of protests
Megan Blood
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I'll be honest--I skimmed this one. It's dense reading, and I was sort of done with the whole topic. But, from what I read, I'm VERY impressed. Very clearly written, very well supported. And the fact that he's a Turk: the first one to speak out about what happened to the Armenians (obviously he's no longer living there). It's a brilliant rebuttal to all the Turkish propaganda about the Armenians starting it all. ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have only partially read this book. I use it as a reference. The writing has the syntax of a non-English speaker. The topic is one that I take in small doses only. The highly-esteemed author is a hero to descendants of the Armenian genocide survivors. A Turkish scholar and academician, Akçam has researched the evidence and presents sound documentation of the premeditated, government-sponsored plan to carry out a mass genocide against the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during World War ...more
Amy Cornell
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A painful book to read. I found myself saddened by every page. But essential reading to understand how such a series of disgusting acts took the lives of so many innocent people.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent revisionist history. A must-read!
Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
San important work, especially in the case of the Armenian genocide, which lacks a lot of documents and information.

The downside of this is that this book can get a little boring or stuck because of this archival work, the endless quotes from speeches, and the language which doesn’t flow that well. I've found myself out of focus a lot in this book. But it’s ok since this book is serving a purpose.

This is not a book explaining the events and scenarios in the classic meaning of it, but a book th
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is very important for acknowledging and addressing the Armenian genocide of 1915. Akcam is very thorough in his research and presents readers with a clear understanding of the social and political climate leading up to 1915, as well as the years following and why nothing ever came of efforts to prosecute those responsible. Unfortunately, this issue remains a toxic subject in Turkey and Akcam's book, while very important, is unlikely to help stimulate any real discussion of the events. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
An excellent, lucid account painstakingly researched.
Chad Montabon
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A 'must read' for history buffs. A lot of unfamiliar territory covered.

I would recommend a notebook as there are a lot of names and a lot of very similar names to keep track of, but it is one of those purposefully forgotten stories from history that the public should be more aware of .
Mel Foster
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Please note the significance of the subtitle. This book does not attempt to chronicle the eyewitness accounts of the Armenian genocide. If that is what you are looking for, there are other books. What Taner Akçam is doing here is investigating the culpability of the Turkish people and nation in the genocide. The title is an allusion to a statement by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, clearly an appeal to a Turkish audience for serious consideration.
What are Akçam's significant accomplishments? First, demo
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a historical book dealing with a heay and contested subject, it was an incredibly absorbing and lucid read. The first Turkish historian to tackle the issue of the Armenian genocide and prove through contemporary Turkish and international documents that the CUP (The Committe of Union and Progress) lead by the Young Turks leadership (Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha, Djemal Pasha) with the cooperation of the Turkish local administration set on the total extermination of the Armenian population in the ...more
Kaarthik Anebou
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is overall a really good one in content. It provides ample evidence and details on the people who orchestered the armenian deportation & subsequent activities that are disturbing. It provides information on post WW I turkey, it's formation & how/what it's leaders wanted to do with their past. It also stresses what the allied or World powers were after (very cheap and shameful behaviour) in the Ottoman empire. Their constant meddling in the Ottoman empire's domestic activities & hunger f ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This 'act' has almost been consigned to a footnote in WW1 history but many significant things are discussed in this book that remain relevant today. The final chapter on 'Why the post-war trials' failed raises important questions about how intervention on humanitarian grounds often masks imperialist or colonial agendas and are even driven less by a desire to punish the guilty but as a way of bolstering interventionist supporting governments at home (or attacking them).

This book is not about desc
Michael Griswold
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book garnered a lot of attention when it was published several years ago because it's a Turkish scholar with a sympathetic view towards the Armenians.

While I'm no genocide expert, it does strike one as curious that there are so many records that don't exist from the time period in question. If Turkey and/or the Ottoman Empire really had nothing to hide in this matter than where are the records? With that said, these holes in the historical record create a weaker accounting of events.

I would
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I appreciate the amount of research conducted by the author. This book really brought insights to me to better understand the subject in wider scope. It gives a good count of many events that took place during the period. I cannot fact-check it all, so I chose to believe the documents referred in this book are genuine.

One problem I had is that the book gives the feeling that the research was conducted to prove a point rather than entirely revealing all aspects of the tragedy. I do not think it
Oct 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
My husband is Armenian and his great-grandparents survived the Armenian genocide, so I was interested in learning more. I heard about this book from an author friend who was reading it. (Thanks, Goodreads and Simon Wood!). So, I checked it out. Now my reading list reads a little wonky as I have added several sources. This book is from the Turkish perspective in that much of the source documentation is from what has survived of Turkish records (much was destroyed), and from various liaisons from ...more
Feb 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those looking for a good sleep aid.
Shelves: given-up
I'm marking this as read but only in the sense that I've read as much as I'm willing to. Life is too short to waster on boring history. After 160+ pages in two months and no sign of the genocide actually beginning, I give up. It's a shame to because this is a subject I was interested to learn about and I've read other genocide histories that I've gotten a lot out of. This is a case where the author decided that every fact he researched was going to make it into the book whether it was interestin ...more
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very important book - Akcam shows his bravey by going against the grain to report a controversial subject. Akcam shows his dedication to truth. Yes, he occasionally bogs down the discussion with the deep details...but he does an excellent job of showing how the Armenian genocide happened and describes a side of the argument so frequently ignored.

You will not read this without feeling upset by the systematic betrayal of the truth and foolish decisions that influenced the modern-day Turkish posi
Peter Thorn
Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a brave book to write. The Turkish standpoint on this issue brooks no aggression, as pointed out by the author, so his viewpoint was not a popular one. It certainly can be a bit dry at times, but statistics and empirical data are undeniably what this book needs, rather than anecdotal evidence, in order to make the point of how undeniable this event is. The book is certainly useful, definitely interesting, but not always exactly a page turner - not that it should be.
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it
After reading this book I feel both shock and anger at how the Armenian Genocide has been treated in history. Clearly the Ottoman government ordered the mass deportation and execution of close to 1 million Armenian men, women and children in 1915. Yet to this day no one will apologize nor take responsibility. Although this book is very well researched, I felt the writing was very repetitive and could have conveyed the history in far fewer pages. I am however glad that I read this.
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting...I will have to admit that I knew nothing about the genocide on the Armenian people. But, in an attempt to provide the reader with every single detail leading up to the genocide events, the author had me lost, confused and bored. It was very difficult to finish reading the book because of such.
Oct 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2009, turkey
A well-researched and detailed account of the Armenian genocide of 1915-17. The writing is a bit dry and can be repetitive and the book tends to jump back and forth along the timeline. Otherwise, wildly informative and incredibly persuasive.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
dense but the definite dossier for the genocide.
Murat Yücel
Jan 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
An impostor, trying to exploit his Turkish ancestry. He's shouting too much, that you can undestand he's not just. ...more
Dean Athans
Brave and well crafted.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed analysis of the roots and implementation of the Armenian Genocide.
Peter Gardner
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Imporant but ponderous.
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Altuğ Taner Akçam is a Turkish historian and sociologist, recognized as a "leading international authority on the Armenian genocide". He is one of the first Turkish academics to acknowledge and openly discuss the Armenian Genocide. ...more

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