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Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past Paperback – May 4, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; Reprint edition (May 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902540
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,581,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The author of four volumes of verse, Peter Balakian writes with the precision of a poet and the lyricism of a privileged suburban child in 1950s New Jersey. He is shadowed by his relatives' carefully guarded memories of past trauma: the brutal Turkish extermination in 1915 of more than a million Armenians, including most of his maternal grandmother's family. Balakian seamlessly interweaves personal and historical material to depict one young man's reclamation of his heritage and to scathingly indict the political forces that conspired to sweep under the rug the 20th century's first genocide. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

A poetic reminiscence of growing up in the '60s takes a sharp turn as the author discovers and explores his family's painful memories of the Armenian genocide in the early years of this century.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Your eyes will be closing, and you will say to yourself: "Just one more page.
The Aeolian Kid
It tells the story of a boy growing up in the 1950s who along with his Armenian grandmother who shared a love of the NY Yankees growing up in New Jersey.
Dawn Dellarocco
Peter Balakian tells so well the deeply felt story of his family's survival and rebirth in the world full of promise that was America.
jcdough@mindspring.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By methylethel on May 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book-- a lyrical nostalgia for 1950s suburb life haunted by the invisible presence of an Armenian family's violent past. Balakian has worked magic with this mingling of personal and historical narrative. He does falter a bit in the last couple of chapters, getting a tad preachy when the narrative speaks perfectly well for itself, but that's forgivable.
Read it because it's a lovely memoir. Read it because it's a slice of history your social studies curriculum probably left out. Or just read it.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
My boyfriend is Armenian and once mentioned the genocide that took place in April, 1915. I had no idea what he was referring to and was embarrassed at my lack of education...
Since America has decided to ignore the Armenian tragedy in all of its history books, I took it upon myself to become more educated on these events and share what happened with everyone I know. I bought this book to learn more about the Armenian culture through the eyes of someone who was also just beginning to learn about his own culture as he grew up in America. I found that Peter Balakian's book was one of the most eye-opening, identifiable stories of Armenian history. Even his descriptions of the various Armenian foods made my mouth water and my stomach ache with hunger.
My mother and father (who are German and Filipino) are now reading this story as well. We often comment on how shocked and amazed we are at how such tragic events happened to the Armenian people and which went totally unpunished, much less acknowledged, by world leaders and historians to date. It's absolutely shameless that Turkey would go on the record as having denied that such a genocide even took place. The resulting evil effects of the Armenian massacre have been felt worldwide throughout many generations. Hitler himself once stated in a speech on August 22, 1939, "Who after all is today speaking of the destruction of the Armenians..." He said this in preparation for the invasion of Poland and he subsequently planned to use the Armenian genocide as a model for his Jewish concentration camps, expecting that the world would ignore his actions just as it ignored the massacre against the Armenians.
Buy this book and educate yourself about a large piece of history that must never be forgotten. You won't be disappointed.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By David W. Lee on February 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is about the Turkish slaughter of the Armenian Turks during World War I. It is also about an Armenian-American's search for his family's past, and his present identity as viewed through one of the most horrific events of world history, an event made even more unimaginable by the fact that it occurred during the twentieth century.
Mr. Balakian's prose overwhelms without being self-pitying or maudlin. I can still smell and taste of walnut and lemon in an Amenian-American household in the 1950's, juxtaposed with the life of a boy who is living under the cloud of the horror of what happened to his ancestor in Turkey in 1917, before he became conscious of what actually occurred.
This book left me reeling and depressed for days. It is a book that must be read.
David W. Lee leelawok@mmcable.com
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By darlene on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
After I finished this book, I remembered a quote I had read upon leaving the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. (writer unknown), "Many thoughts go through my mind, though I remain speechless." This is how I felt after I finished "Black Dog of Fate." The horrors of the Armenian genocide were introduced to me by reading this book, and Balakian made them personal. I felt like I knew his family, like I had adopted them as my own.
I think Balakian intertwined the personal and political beautifully -- I love how he uses the English language! This book moved me, changed me, and educated me in many ways.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
The beauty of "Black Dog of Fate" is that anyone who has the good fortune of picking up the book will immediately relate to the author's childhood and sentiments. Balakian's writing is poignant and eloquent, as he enocovers the tragic history of his family and the entire Armenian people who faced Genocide at the hands of the Turkish government.
Even through his journey of probing his Armenian roots, Balakian remains the all-American kid. His evolution from a child to adult and the experiences he has along the way, are brilliantly familiar. I often found myself touched by his language and style, which capture the inquisitiveness, happiness and pain of coming of age.
However, the underlying theme is the complexity of discovering one's true identity, and the often piecemeal nature of this task. Balakian's discovery does not happen overnight, as we see glimpses of his family's painful secret even in his early years. His full appreciation comes at adulthood, when we see the beautiful blossoming of his self as an Armenian-American, or just a complete individual of any identity.
Balakian embodies the universal struggle to understand human nature and the spectrum of beauty and horror that it is capable of producing.
A definite must-read for everyone!!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is beautifully written. It does a marvelous job of portraying the growing pains of a teenage boy in his all-too-normal clashes with his parents; this boy's clashes, however, also have to do with his family's Armenian background. As a child, Balakian took for granted or failed to notice many of the hints and signs that his family had a very different history from the other families around them. As an adult, he grows curious, investigates and discovers the tragic events in his family's past. The book does a beautiful job of weaving these two stories together.
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