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From Empire to Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide Paperback – April 1, 2004
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'Taner Akcam is one of the new generation of scholars from Turkey developing a new understanding of Turkish history, and who are trying to explore the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic. In Turkey, this subject has been made taboo politically and in official historical writing, and efforts at seeking historical truth and justice are full of personal risks. We hope that his example of courage and intellectual honesty will contribute to a better understanding between peoples in the region.' Yair Auron, The Open University of Israel 'This book is original, discriminating, and confronts profound issues. It should be accessible to a wide audience, not scholars alone. From Empire to Republic is a book that could have a large impact on how both Turkish history and the Armenian Genocide are understood' Roger W. Smith, Professor Emeritus, Department of Government, College of William and Mary 'Taner Akcam`s approach to the analysis of the lingering Turkish-Armenian conflict is as novel as it is phenomenal. He proposes a new kind of scholarly dialogue that is based on non-partisan, authentic official documents and upon scholars, both Turkish and Armenian, whose commitment to unadulterated truth is optimal' Vahakn N. Dadrian, Zoryan Institute 'Dr. Akcam has been working tirelessly, and against tremendous odds,to overcome prejudices and biases in order to initiate dialoguebetween the Turks and the Armenians. He has diligently delved into primary sources to understand, illuminate and analyze some of the darker aspects of human behavior in general and the Armenian tragedy in particular. His critical focus on this particular silence in Turkish history is bound to bolster the democratic forces in that society. Dr. Akcam`s scholarship is meticulous, his perspectives illuminating, and his moral fortitude inspiring. In all, what is most remarkable is not only his perseverance, but also his genuine sense of optimism' Fatma Muge Gocek, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 'Offers informative reading for those interested in debates surrounding the Armenian genocide.' Hilmar Kaiser 'Taner Akcam has gained prominence in academic circles as the first Turkish historian to publicly argue that the disappearance of the Armenian population from Anatolia in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire was the result of genocide. This book, a set of inter-related essays on the place of the Armenian question in Turkish public life, will not make Akcam any less controversial a figure. He focuses on the mentality of the perpetrator rather than the victim, and argues that the humiliating transformation 'From Empire to Republic' was the key experience leading to the emergence of a genocidal mentality among the Young Turks.' Bill Kissane, Nation's and Nationalism, Volume 14, April 2008
About the Author
Taner Akçam is Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
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The other reviewers prove the point of this book, and other books on the subject, are trying to make: that many people, especially Turks, are not psychologically prepared to have a calm, intelligent discussion about this topic, are not able to admit even the slightest possibility that the Turkish government may be, even to the smallest extent, in the wrong. It's a valid point.
But why is this important for the others as well? There are already dozens of books about the Armenian genocide. Does it make a difference to read about the genocide by a Turkish scholar? The book shows it very convincingly that it does. Here are the reasons.
First, the book gives an account of the genocide from the perspective of the perpetuators. There are books written by Turkey-supported academicians but those books do not accept that the Ottomans were the perpetuators. They solely try to knock-out the arguments of the other side. Therefore, we need to know the perspective of the perpetuator and Akcam gives this along with the psychological background of the perpetuators in addition to the historical and sociological backgrounds.
Second, he succesfully shows how that psychological background the Turkish society had in that era still hunts today's Turkish society pervasively. This is a significant reason why Turkish society does not want to hear about the genocide. Importantly, Akcam suggests some social-engineering solutions for both sides based on the continuation of the past and present psyche of the Turkish society. This is a significant reason why today's Armenians need to know what Turkish society is up to- psychologically- and try to strip off the stereotypes they have about Turks.
Third and fourth, as the book tells it convincingly, the Armenian genocide is not an issue that should be left in the dusty pages of the Ottoman history. There is an administrative continuation from Ittihat ve Terakki which committed the genocide to the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Interestingly, Akcam presents the evidence for how the founders of the republic (e.g. M.Kemal Ataturk) in fact admitted the massacres back in the days although because of political reasons. Akcam gives further evidence for the genocide from Turkish resources as well.
As a psychologist I have reservations about the psychoanalytic points but they do not cast a shadow on the value of the book. For those who are interested in the Armenian genocide it is a valuable book. For those who are interested in genocide-psychology studies, there are plenty of food for thoughts. And it is a must read for Turkish people.
Due to the fact that any mention of the Armenian Genocide has always been considered a crime in Turkey, Professor Akcam eventually had to flee into exile and leave his homeland behind.
Today the number of turkish historians struggling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is ever-growing. They are demanding from the turkish government an end to its denial-campaign and its recognition of this vast crime against humanity.
"From Empire to Republic" can be considered one of the most important books concerning the Armenian Genocide. After all, it was the first ever written book on the Armenian Genocide by a turkish historian.
In April 2006, Professor Akcam made the unbelievable statement on PBS that the massacre of Muslims by Armenians was "legend." He is either sadly misinformed about the history of his own country, or he indeed has become a mouthpiece for a political agenda that chooses to ignore historical reality.
Anyone who seeks to learn about the Armenian/Ottoman tragedy should start with a book published in 1964 by the Armenian scholar, Louise Nalbandian: "Armenian Revolutionary Movements." She wrote her book shortly before the Armenian Diaspora began to politicize their claims to genocide. It doesn't matter to me whether a person believes the Armenians were victims of genocide in 1915. What matters to me is that "academics" such as Professor Akcam insist on discussing only one side of this tragic story, and continue to pretend that Armenians did no wrong.
Horrible atrocities were committed on all sides; it is the responsibility of Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to deal with this legacy. In the U.S. and Europe, this issue has become too politicized. Anyone who disagrees with the Armenian viewpoint is automatically labeled a "genocide denier." Unfortunately, most of the media and politicians have naively chosen to support the Armenian genocide claims without conducting their own research. And they choose to believe that "scholars" such as Professor Akcam are basing their writings on thorough research that takes the Armenian revolutionary movement into account; such is not the case.