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"They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else":
A History of the Armenian Genocide
Ronald Grigor Suny

A Financial Times Summer Books 2015 selection
Winner of the 2016 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies
One of Financial Times ( Best Books in History 2015, chosen Tony Barber

Paperback | 2017 | $22.95 | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780691175966
520 pp. | 6 x 9 | 25 halftones. 5 maps.
Hardcover | 2015 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691147307
520 pp. | 6 x 9 | 25 halftones.
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A Q&A with Ronald Grigor Suny

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Starting in early 1915, the Ottoman Turks began deporting and killing hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the first major genocide of the twentieth century. By the end of the First World War, the number of Armenians in what would become Turkey had been reduced by 90 percent—more than a million people. A century later, the Armenian Genocide remains controversial but relatively unknown, overshadowed by later slaughters and the chasm separating Turkish and Armenian interpretations of events. In this definitive narrative history, Ronald Suny cuts through nationalist myths, propaganda, and denial to provide an unmatched account of when, how, and why the atrocities of 1915–16 were committed. Drawing on archival documents and eyewitness accounts, this is an unforgettable chronicle of a cataclysm that set a tragic pattern for a century of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan and Senior Researcher at the National Research University–Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg.


"In recent years scholars of Ottoman history have published a number of path-breaking, award-winning academic studies documenting the annihilation of the Armenians in 1915. Published on the one hundredth anniversary of that horrible event, Ronald Grigor Suny's monograph stands out as another superb work, in this case the best narrative account explaining ‘why, when, and how' the Armenian genocide occurred."--Marc David Baer, H-Nationalism

"An authoritative examination of unspeakable horrors. . . . [D]eeply researched, fair-minded. . . . Suny creates a compelling narrative of vengeance and terror."--Kirkus, starred review

"The centenary [of the Armenian Genocide] has raised the diplomatic temperature and precipitated many books. Ronald Suny's is the best of them: Balanced, scholarly, and harrowing, it should be read by all serious students of modern history."--Dominic Green, Weekly Standard

"Suny is admirably dispassionate in explaining the particular circumstances that led the Ottoman government to embark on a policy of mass extermination."--Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

"[W]hat distinguishes Suny's scholarship is a scrupulous attention to context and the genuine imperial anxiety of the Young Turks. They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else (a title taken from another Talat diktat) is a fair-minded account. Unsparing in depicting the viciousness of the killing, forced conversions and kidnapping of children and young women, it is rigorous in its choice of language and nuance, generous in its empathy but implacable in its conclusions."--David Gardner, Financial Times

"A tremendously powerful, scrupulously balanced, rigorous and humane account of a tragedy that still casts a shadow over the modern state of Turkey. It is likely to become the definitive reference book on the subject for years to come."--Justin Marozzi, Spectator

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi
Sources, Notes, and Transliteration xxiii
1 Empire 1
2 Armenians 31
3 Nation 64
4 Great Powers 91
5 Revolution 141
6 Counterrevolution 174
7 War 208
8 Removal 246
9 Genocide 281
10 Orphaned Nation 328
Conclusion: Thinking about the Unthinkable: Genocide 350
Historians Look at the Armenian Genocide: A Bibliographical Discussion 367
Notes 375
Index 463


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