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Family of Shadows: A Century of Murder, Memory, and the Armenian American Dream Hardcover – September 21, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hovannisian is an American-born journalist who now lives both in the U.S.and Yerevan, Armenia. In this engrossing and inspiring saga of three generations of Armenian Americans, he recounts the personal histories of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father and places them within the context of Armenian history over the past century. The result is a story of personal redemption and national renewal. Great-grandfather Kaspar witnessed the slaughter of family members in 1915 during the Young Turk–inspired genocide in western Armenia. He fled to the U.S., where he became a prosperous farmer in California. Grandfather Richard awakened to his heritage as a teenager and immersed himself in Armenian language and history and became a renowned professor of Armenian history at UCLA. Father Raffi emigrated to the newly independent Armenian republic in 1990 and is active in political life there. Given recent Armenian history, there is tragedy as well as triumph here, but this generally is a joyful celebration of a family’s role in a national revival of an ancient people and land. --Jay Freeman

Review

Hovannisian narrates in a swift, novel-like style…. Cultural history and memoir gracefully entwined. -Kirkus Reviews

Garin Hovannisian brings a historian’s rigor, a poet’s lyricism, and a native son’s passion to this remarkable book. Intimate as memoir yet expansive as an epic, Family of Shadows puts the Armenian experience, in all its tragedy and triumph, into memorably human terms. -Samuel G. Freedman, author of Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life

The history of the Hovannisian family is an extraordinary saga, and Garin Hovannisian provides here a moving account of its survival and triumph through three generations. Weaving together history, culture, and original reporting, Family of Shadows is an inspired tribute, full of passion and appreciation for the genealogy of the Hovannisian family and its transformation into an American success story. -Dr. Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York and author of The Road to Home: My Life and Times

With what one can only describe as an artistic skill, Garin Hovannisian interleaves the micro-story of his resilient family with the macro-narrative of the Armenian Genocide. One swiftly learns to appreciate the true meaning of the word ‘indestructible’. -Christopher Hitchens, author of Hitch-22: A Memoir

Garin Hovannisian tells one of modern history’s great unexamined stories. Whether you are an Armenian American like me or come to this story anew, Family of Shadows will move you with the intensity and intimacy of its detail. The Hovannisian family lived the story of the extinction and resurrection of the Armenian nation, and we are lucky that Garin Hovannisian has put it all down on paper so that the world can understand. -David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post and author of Body of Lies
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006179208X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061792083
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,911,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By nyc41 on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful and heartbreaking story. If you know nothing about Armenia's past, it certainly won't be a pleasant read, but it's a necessary one.

The good news is that, despite the tragedy of the Armenian genocide and its aftermath, the story of the Hovannisian family is one of hope and one of resilience. If anything can be done to repair this broken country, it most certainly will stem from one of the many memorable characters in Family of Shadows.
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Family of Shadows is the story of an Armenian-American family, one that most Armenians will recognize. The best part about the book is that even if you don't know much about Armenia, its history and the lives of its sons and daughters in America, Family of Shadows still has something for you.

Armenians will recognize many familiar names and stories in the pages of this book, while non-Armenians will get introduced to one of the most amazing nations on the face of the Earth. Surviving Genocide and rising to prominence in the US, the Hovhannisian family's story bears similarities to that of a number of other Armenians in various parts of the globe and is a wonderful testament to the importance of identity and heritage. The book is well written and a pleasure to read and the author is, at times, painfully honest about his own relationships with the protagonists.

Garin K. Hovhannisyan has made a strong debut in the world of global literature and after reading Family of Shadows, I find myself looking forward to his next books!
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Family of Shadows is the only historical account of Armenia's past and present that has completely captured my attention. Not only did I learn about the geography and history of Armenia and the diaspora, but also of the gut-wrenching strength of those who created its history and whose vision led them to tread the waters of uncertainty. The author did a tremendous job of bringing personalities to life while painting a unique picture through the story of four generations of Hovannisians- Genius!
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This is truly an amazing book. I couldn't put in down and finished it within 2 days. Hovannisian does a superb job of recounting the turbulent Armenian history of the last century by intertwining the events with his family story. By reading his book, one feels as if he actually knows, sympathizes with, and understands each character regardless of generation. His story-telling skills are truly like no other. If you have any interest in the Armenian history, or any knowledge of the Hovannisian family, this will be a book you won't be able to stop reading from beginning to end.
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Format: Hardcover
Family of Shadows is a remarkable book that chronicles a terrible part of history endured by Caspar,a young Armenian boy in the early 1900's who overcomes this terrible tragedy. The author, Garin Hovannisian does an immense job of giving us not only a synopsis of history but a close look on some of the complex events that Casper endured. He does an immense job of detail and description . I couldn't put the book down. I look forward to his next book !
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Format: Hardcover
This is such a beautiful story, so sad yet so hopeful. My copy is so stained with tears it now seems twice the size!

I didn't know much about Armenians before reading this book. I have some friends, and would overhear their memories from time to time. After reading Hovannisian's book I feel like I understand them so much better. This is a great book for non-Armenians who are at all curious about this strange and resilient culture.
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Garin's vivid details and easy flow manner is a made for TV movie in the making. What a wonderful book that one can't put down. Family of Shadows has great meaning to many, even those who are not Armenian.. A struggle of survival, endurance and success.
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By V&K on October 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A MUST read! One of the most captivating books I have read in a long time. I could not put it down. From historical fact to family dynamics this tale of one boy's journey to achieve the American-Armenian dream is touching and unforgettable.
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