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Forgotten Fire Hardcover – October 1, 2000


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Hardcover, October 1, 2000
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN; 1st edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789426277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789426277
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,214,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Forced to watch his father escorted out of their lives by Turkish police, his brothers shot to death in their backyard, his grandmother murdered by a rock-wielding guard, and his sister take poison rather than be raped by soldiers, 12-year-old Vahan Kendarian abruptly begins to learn what his father meant when he used to say, "This is how steel is made. Steel is made strong by fire." Up until 1915, Vahan has lived a cosseted life as the son of a wealthy and respected Armenian man. But overnight his world is destroyed when the triumvirate of Turkish leaders, Enver Pasha, Talaat Bey, and Djemal Pasha, begins the systematic massacre of nearly three-quarters of the Armenian population of Turkey, 1.5 million men, women, and children. Soon Vahan is an orphan on the run, surviving by begging, pretending to be deaf and mute, dressing as a girl, hiding out in basements and outhouses, and even living for a time with the Horseshoer of Baskale, a Turkish governor known for nailing horseshoes to the feet of his Armenian victims. Time and again, the terrified and desperate boy grows close to someone--and loses him or her to an appalling, violent death. Through three years of unspeakable horror, Vahan is made stronger by this fire, and by perseverance, fate, or sheer luck, he survives long enough to escape to the safe haven of Constantinople.

Brutally vivid, Adam Bagdasarian's Forgotten Fire is based on the experiences of his great-uncle during the Armenian Holocaust. The absolutely relentless series of vile events is almost unbearable, but the quiet elegance of Bagdasarian's writing makes this a novel of truth and beauty. Parental guidance is strongly suggested for younger readers of this extraordinary, heartbreaking account. (Ages 14 and older) --Emilie Coulter

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on his own great-uncle's experiences, Bagdasarian covers the years 1915-1918 when a boy from a wealthy, well-respected family from Bitlis, Turkey, is stripped of everything simply because he is Armenian. Told from an adult perspective through flashbacks, Vahan's narrative covers a harrowing journey beginning with his father's disappearance and, within a week or so, what he describes as the "last day my childhood" at age 12: Turkish gendarmes execute his two older brothers and force the rest of the familyDa brother, two sisters and motherDto walk for days without food or water. Upon his mother's urging, Vahan and his last surviving brother, Sisak, escape one night in the woods, and throughout the rest of the novel he experiences and witnesses unspeakable violence. The prose is often graceful (e.g., loneliness "simply comes, sits in the center of the heart where it cannot be overlooked, and abides") and the events are as gripping as they are horrifying. But unlike Anita Lobel's remarkable WWII memoir No Pretty Pictures, told from the perspective of a child who does not quite grasp what's happening around her, the narrative here maintains an adult sensibility. This point of view both distances readers from Vahan's emotions and makes the events disturbing for even the more mature adolescent readers (Vahan's sister commits suicide in front of him rather than risk rape by a Turk; he himself is sexually molested; he witnesses the rape of a 10-year-old girl). While this is an important history, it may be better suited to sophisticated teens and adults. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This was the absolute best book i have ever read.
B. Johnson
A very dramatic and sad story about a boy named Vahan who lives through the Armenian Genocide.
S. Tovmasyan
Bagdasarian has written a very moving masterpiece.
Codeman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Crossfit Len on December 20, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not going to waste anyone's time here and re-summarize the book. What I will say is this.
I am a 10th grade teacher and I assigned this book for the first time this year to my 10th grade World History students. The student reaction to this book was unbelievable.
Repeat: I forced students to read a book for a class and they loved it.
Actually it was quite unbelievable, both before, during, and after class the students were discussing, and arguing with each other over the book.
I even caught kids reading the book in the lunchroom and cafeteria, and study hall!
As a teacher my only criticism of the book is that it does not really explain why the Turks targeted the Armenians. To me that was the one thing this book needed but did not really have.
But the best way to sum up how thought provoking and good this book is is a quote from a 70-80 student who told me
"I normally do not like to read, but I loved this book."
A forgotten piece of history that needs to be read, and students will actually like!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Oddsfish VINE VOICE on July 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I once read where the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Carol Shields said that a great novel should follow the characters' search for a metaphoric home. Forgotten Fire does that, both literally and metaphorically, and the result is a masterpiece of a novel.
The novel's protagonist is Vahan. At the beginning of the novel, he is one of the sons of a very rich and influencial Armenian lawyer. He is twelve. The family's life is certainly one of luxury and security. Then, the Armenian Holocaust begins, though. Vahan sees brothers murdered, his grandmother shot, and his sister's suicide among other almost unspeakable atrocities. Eventually, Vahan is forced to try to run, and that results in his three year struggle to survive alone in a country torn by war and the hatred of his race.
There are so many things that make this novel great. First, the characterizations are wonderful as you see Vahan forced to grow into a man. It is also inspiring to see a person like Vahan moving ahead in life in such horrible conditions. The writing is so good; the prose flows smoothly yet the narrative is unflinching and unsentimental. The novel also has the ability to blow you away with one beautiful piece of insight or one loving human relationship amongst the chaos. This is one of the most powerful reads I've had, and I'm sure that Forgotten Fire will never be forgotten. It will survive to remind the world of the plight of the Armenian people.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By dogny on January 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
`Who does now remember the Armenians,' said Adolph Hitler in 1939 in reference to the impending Jewish mass murder. Certainly The Fuhrer hit the nail on the head. Where is the history channel episode on the Armenian genocide? Aside from Ararat, where are the great Hollywood films on the subject? And, at a profoundly deeper level, where, my friends, is the vigorous debate within Turkish society on the genocide . . . even today . . . the silence is deafening. Why such sensitivity about the truth; surely the events happening ninety years ago deserve reflection today.

As a child, one of the first books whose cover intrigued me was The Destruction of European Jewry by Hilberg. I read Night, marveling at Wiesel's poetry. I watched in awe Polanski's masterpiece The Piano and Spielberg's emotional Schindler's List. I saw the tattered number's burned on my cousin's arm, a memento of a concentration camp. The subject of `restorations' to the state of Israel in the 1950's provoked vigorous debate within Israel(and an emotional dissent by a young Begin of the future Likud party). But, the Israeli's accepted; more important, the Germans offered. Many would say this was a shallow restitution for the mass murder of six million, but a debated occurred, official acknowledgment was fact. In the case of the butchering of one and a half million Armenians . . . silence.

It is in this emotionally charged backdrop that Adam Bagdasarian's debut novel The Forgotten Fire occurs. First it is a well told story based on the verbal recounting of a relative's tape recording before his death. Painful to read because of the subject matter, The Forgotten Fire tells about the ability to withstand almost an imaginable degree of suffering.

There are moments of great emotion in the story.
Read more ›
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on December 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This breathtaking novel written from the view point of an Armenian boy during the genocide of WWI picks you up, runs you ragged and then drops you with haunted eyes and a shiver to live in your concience forever. The atrocities committed during this almost forgotten episode of history are shown with intensity and clarity so strongly that you must occasionally force yourself to blink before beginning the next sentance. Unbelievable, unforgettable, and more important than any book I have ever read. To understand history you must read this book; if you have not, you have missed something vital.
As a juvenile services librarian, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. When a librarian says they could not put a books down, it is high compliment, realizing we read the best of the best, the cream of the crop, of children's and YA lit. I could not put this book down. Please read this book; it will make you more human.
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