Read A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility by Taner Akçam Paul Bessemer Online


A landmark assessment of Turkish culpability in the Armenian genocide, the first history of its kind by a Turkish historian In 1915, under the cover of a world war, some one million Armenians were killed through starvation, forced marches, forced exile, and mass acts of slaughter. Although Armenians and world opinion have held the Ottoman powers responsible, Turkey has conA landmark assessment of Turkish culpability in the Armenian genocide, the first history of its kind by a Turkish historian In 1915, under the cover of a world war, some one million Armenians were killed through starvation, forced marches, forced exile, and mass acts of slaughter. Although Armenians and world opinion have held the Ottoman powers responsible, Turkey has consistently rejected any claim of intentional genocide. Now, in a pioneering work of excavation, Turkish historian Taner Akçam has made extensive and unprecedented use of Ottoman and other sources to produce a scrupulous charge sheet against the Turkish authorities. The first scholar of any nationality to have mined the significant evidence--in Turkish military and court records, parliamentary minutes, letters, and eyewitness accounts--Akçam follows the chain of events leading up to the killing and then reconstructs its systematic orchestration by coordinated departments of the Ottoman state, the ruling political parties, and the military. He also probes the crucial question of how Turkey succeeded in evading responsibility, pointing to competing international interests in the region, the priorities of Turkish nationalists, and the international community's inadequate attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice. As Turkey lobbies to enter the European Union, Akçam's work becomes ever more important and relevant. Beyond its timeliness, A Shameful Act is sure to take its lasting place as a classic and necessary work on the subject. ...

Title : A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780805079326
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 483 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility Reviews

  • Sern
    2019-02-12 14:06

    First of all, I would like to whisper this to those potential members who are Armenian or come from Armenian background: I am a Turk and I can tell you safely that the number of us who know about this barbaric act in our national history and feel utterly ashamed about it is increasing. Please do not think that Taner Akcam is alone.Understandably, this book is quite challenging for those of you who are not familiar with Turkish history -not surprising that some of the members' reviews mentioned the difficulty in reading the book. As one member said, the author focuses on 'little' events on great lengths. I think we need to understand that it was inevitable for Taner Akcam to focus on facts in great details rather than the tragic story of the Armenian Genocide itself. The main reason is that the book aims to be an academic work directed against the denial of the genocide by the Turkish State and its quasi-historians. Secondly, since the establishment of so-called "Modern Turkey", the ruling power has always been careful enough to destroy evidence of their atrocities inflicted upon the Armenian, the Kurd, and the Greek. So, something which may seem to be insignificant for us like a telegram is crucial for the historian.I think the book is immensely worth to read for those of us in particular, who are not willing to let this "shameful act" to be forgotten.

  • Jeni Enjaian
    2019-02-12 18:18

    I did not know that a book like this on the Armenian Genocide written by a Turk existed so when I found it I knew I had to read it. I was completely blown away. I understand the complaint that I've read in other reviews that the author's almost obsessive need to document every detail about the lead up to and cover up of the Genocide was off putting. For me as a Master's in History student with a thesis topic of the Genocide this book proved immensely valuable. I am deeply indebted to the author's courage in writing such a thorough accusation of the CUP (Young Turks) and their role in the Armenian Genocide.

  • Megan Blood
    2019-01-25 20:05

    3.5 stars. I'll be honest--I skimmed this one. It's dense reading, and I was sort of done with the whole topic. But, from what I read, I'm VERY impressed. Very clearly written, very well supported. And the fact that he's a Turk: the first one to speak out about what happened to the Armenians (obviously he's no longer living there). It's a brilliant rebuttal to all the Turkish propaganda about the Armenians starting it all.

  • Andrea
    2019-01-28 13:25

    I have only partially read this book. I use it as a reference. The writing has the syntax of a non-English speaker. The topic is one that I take in small doses only. The highly-esteemed author is a hero to descendants of the Armenian genocide survivors. A Turkish scholar and academician, Akçam has researched the evidence and presents sound documentation of the premeditated, government-sponsored plan to carry out a mass genocide against the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during World War One. He was a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota and is a friend of the Armenian Cultural Organization of Minnesota.

  • Mary
    2019-02-19 19:07

    Excellent revisionist history. A must-read!

  • Amy Cornell
    2019-01-24 21:32

    A painful book to read. I found myself saddened by every page. But essential reading to understand how such a series of disgusting acts took the lives of so many innocent people.

  • Jpp
    2019-02-16 17:27

    Un acte honteux. Sous ce titre l historien turc Taner Akçam a réalisé un travail lucide et courageux. Si il défend le caractère génocidaire des massacres, et leur préparation au sommet de l'état ottaman par une partie de l appareil gouvernemental, il repose aussi bien les responsabilités dans le cadre historique complexe de l'époque, et en particulier des cycles de massacres et vengeances entre communautés turques, grecques, kurdes et arméniennes à partir de 1878, des doubles jeux des puissances européennes continuant leur stratégie de dépecage de l homme malade de l Europe, et du réveil du nationalisme turc.A l heure où les hommes politiques veulent se donner le droit d'écrire eux mêmes l histoire, le travail solide et sérieux de l auteur sera d'un apport autrement important à la reconnaissance du génocide arménien.

  • How_sven
    2019-02-11 20:23

    This book is very important for acknowledging and addressing the Armenian genocide of 1915. Akcam is very thorough in his research and presents readers with a clear understanding of the social and political climate leading up to 1915, as well as the years following and why nothing ever came of efforts to prosecute those responsible. Unfortunately, this issue remains a toxic subject in Turkey and Akcam's book, while very important, is unlikely to help stimulate any real discussion of the events.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-02-14 13:11

    Many books and much of the writing concerning the Armenian question claim that the Armenians under Ottoman rule lived in a state of peace and tranquility until the nineteenth century.NB This dry rendition in an already over long book makes for a chore, so I continued via skimming mode coupled with wiki and google. There must be better books on this subject out there, however I have had enough for now.

  • Levon EVHS Gevorgyan
    2019-02-14 13:10

    This book is an extensive and thorough study of the Armenian Genocide. It shows how many conflicts and territorial losses drove the Ottoman Turks to massacre the Armenian Christians. Using evidence, this book clearly shows that the actions committed by the Young Turks and their followers were indeed a systematic attempt to remove a nation from the face of the Earth. This book also shows the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.

  • Edward Sullivan
    2019-02-16 19:17

    An excellent, lucid account painstakingly researched.

  • Mel Foster
    2019-01-25 21:06

    Please note the significance of the subtitle. This book does not attempt to chronicle the eyewitness accounts of the Armenian genocide. If that is what you are looking for, there are other books. What Taner Akçam is doing here is investigating the culpability of the Turkish people and nation in the genocide. The title is an allusion to a statement by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, clearly an appeal to a Turkish audience for serious consideration. What are Akçam's significant accomplishments? First, demonstrating and documenting the advance planning on the part of Committee of Union and Progress. The Ottomans, he argues, were not reluctantly dragged into World War I but went enthusiastically under the aegis of men whose pan-Turkic aspirations saw war as a helpful pretext for eliminating the Armenians which stood in their way as well as avenging recent losses in the Balkan Wars and elsewhere. Second, there are some important discussions here regarding defining and prosecuting "crimes of humanity" a concept whose origins Akçam traces to this incident in World War I. Third, this book is enormously helpful in understanding the context of the genocide. You will be able to understand the rationalizations given for the genocide and the entrenched interests(those implicated and those who profited) in the post war nationalist government who blocked real and effective justice. You will understand the causes of the failure of the Allies, despite occupation of Istanbul, to see justice done to the genocide's leading perpetrators. Akçam points to their disputes among themselves and their pursuit of their colonial interests as chief problems. A minor point, but one I deem needs more discussion, is the Muslim nature of the National Movement in Ankara. Akçam quotes a 1920 circular from Ataturk stating that "non-Muslims shall not be allowed to participate in the elections." This is a pet peeve of mine because US high school curriculum loves to caricature Ataturk and Turkey as a model of a secular Muslim state, without really acknowledging the details. Pesky facts.This book is indeed a challenging book to read, especially in the occupation years when there are two competing governments and parliaments are constantly re-forming. I found the relationship of the governments and the pile of names, many of which recur in abundance (Kemal, Bey, Pasha, etc) quite confusing, and thought perhaps a glossary of people might be helpful, despite the fact that this is not my first book dealing with the period. (Yes, I am suggesting another appendix in addition to the index and the punctilious citation of sources which runs for 88 pages). There were also times when Akçam would unaccountably jump back and forward in time. For instance he would be in the occupation years and start quoting a statement from 1915 and I couldn't follow the connection. These are the only reasons I rated it 4 rather than 5 stars. Akçam has clearly established with this accomplished work that the killing of Armenians was an organized, deliberate act of state leaders (though often executed through party and paramilitary channels) that went beyond any military exigency and was more than just the actions of a couple of stray criminals.Those who insist otherwise are either promoting their own political agenda or have their heads in the sand.

  • Monica
    2019-02-11 13:28

    For a historical book dealing with a heay and contested subject, it was an incredibly absorbing and lucid read. The first Turkish historian to tackle the issue of the Armenian genocide and prove through contemporary Turkish and international documents that the CUP (The Committe of Union and Progress) lead by the Young Turks leadership (Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha, Djemal Pasha) with the cooperation of the Turkish local administration set on the total extermination of the Armenian population in the Ottoman territories in a state-led effort to rid the Ottoman empire of non-Turkish (non-muslim elements) and used the pretext and the cover of WWI to carry it out. Reading this account it is not hard to draw parallels with the real-politicking of today in which no state will ever intervene in an international conflict on humanitarian basis alone. The author interweaves the internatinal set up of the time in which the Great Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Russia) squabbled and failed to intervene or later insist on a systematic punishment of the culprits of the Armenian genocide and the insistence that the Turkish state make reparations or at least recognise the Armenian extermination of circa £1 million people. With the arrival of the Nationalist movement and the formation of the Turkish republic all desire to prosecute the criminals of the Armenian genocide was washed under the proverbial carpet and a series of lies covered the facts, a sorry state of affairs perpetuated to our own time in which only 29 countries worldwide recognise the Armenian massacres as the first modern a genocide. (Britain is not amongst them.)A brilliant book that I highly recommend for everyone who wishes to find out more about this forgotten aspect of the horrors of the making of the modern world.

  • Kaarthik Anebou
    2019-01-31 15:30

    The book is overall a really good one in content. It provides ample evidence and details on the people who orchestered the armenian deportation & subsequent activities that are disturbing. It provides information on post WW I turkey, it's formation & how/what it's leaders wanted to do with their past. It also stresses what the allied or World powers were after (very cheap and shameful behaviour) in the Ottoman empire. Their constant meddling in the Ottoman empire's domestic activities & hunger for power and expanding their empire is exposed stark naked. In spite of clear evidence & details provided by their diplomats on the real state of Armenians, the world powers did not do enough.Downside is it is not as detailed as it ought to be in terms of providing details of how the armenians were treated (as you would see in WW II Jew Holocaust books) and lack of detailed maps & pictures make it difficult to remember people's names, places etc.,. It would have been more informative if information is provided on Armenians' strengths, their culture, art etc.,. Also sometimes the decision of the Allied powers & the how they reached their decision was not discussed in detail - few statements are made in different places in the book about say, France/Italy changing their stance. And who are the decision makers & who are the cabinet/diplomats involved in not detailed enough. Also America's relations with the Ottoman empire is not clear enough. Overall the books is entirely focused on the events that unfolded to the genocide & who from the Govt were involved in the activities. Other elements surrounding it (as I stated above) are not provided enough focus. It is a good read though.

  • Lizixer
    2019-02-10 15:08

    This 'act' has almost been consigned to a footnote in WW1 history but many significant things are discussed in this book that remain relevant today. The final chapter on 'Why the post-war trials' failed raises important questions about how intervention on humanitarian grounds often masks imperialist or colonial agendas and are even driven less by a desire to punish the guilty but as a way of bolstering interventionist supporting governments at home (or attacking them).This book is not about describing the Armenian genocide in detail. It sets out to explore why countries who commit terrible acts can't punish themselves (with the exception of post WW2 Germany perhaps) and why Turkey continues to evade responsibility for this heinous massacre. It shows how important concepts for international law such as "crimes against humanity" came to be recognised but how the imperialistic and self-serving policies of the "Great Powers" made it impossible for such crimes to be prosecuted until later in the century when Germany faced up to the crimes of the 30s and 40s, as well as making it clear that many of those directly involved in the atrocities went on to serve in the Turkish government and enjoyed long political careers (by comparison, imagine if Germany had refused to prosecute Goering for example who then went on to be the German foreign minister in the 50s and 60).Essential reading for any student of early 20thC history, or WW1 history as well as people who take an interest in the politics of the Middle East and the territories of the old Ottoman empire

  • Michael Griswold
    2019-02-16 17:10

    This book garnered a lot of attention when it was published several years ago because it's a Turkish scholar with a sympathetic view towards the Armenians.While I'm no genocide expert, it does strike one as curious that there are so many records that don't exist from the time period in question. If Turkey and/or the Ottoman Empire really had nothing to hide in this matter than where are the records? With that said, these holes in the historical record create a weaker accounting of events.I would've liked to have heard more from witnesses of these massacres rather then just witnesses reported xyz, as evidence of genocide or the intent to genocide. Not sure that's Acham's fault, But it comes across as choppy and difficult to follow.One thing I did appreciate was that there was a fair heaping of blame on any number of parties from the Ottoman/Turks, Germans to the Great Powers (Russia, Great Brittan, France, USA. ) Genocide does not happen just because one group decides to exterminate another, but because those who can stand up and do something about it, don't. These sections of the book were better spelled out than the case FOR GENOCIDE made in the first half of the book. Call it a mixed bag.

  • Ahmet
    2019-01-31 16:29

    I appreciate the amount of research conducted by the author. This book really brought insights to me to better understand the subject in wider scope. It gives a good count of many events that took place during the period. I cannot fact-check it all, so I chose to believe the documents referred in this book are genuine. One problem I had is that the book gives the feeling that the research was conducted to prove a point rather than entirely revealing all aspects of the tragedy. I do not think it is one-sided, but I sensed bias in the direction that the research was conducted. Ilber Ortayli had told "can a historian be a surgeon? No. In the same way an economist cannot be an authentic historian." for Taner Akcam's work. I believe the research could be diversified to enrich the book further.

  • Kelly
    2019-02-12 13:28

    My husband is Armenian and his great-grandparents survived the Armenian genocide, so I was interested in learning more. I heard about this book from an author friend who was reading it. (Thanks, Goodreads and Simon Wood!). So, I checked it out. Now my reading list reads a little wonky as I have added several sources. This book is from the Turkish perspective in that much of the source documentation is from what has survived of Turkish records (much was destroyed), and from various liaisons from Germany and Britain and France. I found the book to be very informative and leaving me wanting to know more about this period of history. It was obviously very well researched, and while it was not a 'fun' read, it was very clear and understandable.

  • Benjamin
    2019-02-09 21:23

    I'm marking this as read but only in the sense that I've read as much as I'm willing to. Life is too short to waster on boring history. After 160+ pages in two months and no sign of the genocide actually beginning, I give up. It's a shame to because this is a subject I was interested to learn about and I've read other genocide histories that I've gotten a lot out of. This is a case where the author decided that every fact he researched was going to make it into the book whether it was interesting or advanced the reader's understanding or not.

  • Mike
    2019-02-15 18:05

    A very important book - Akcam shows his bravey by going against the grain to report a controversial subject. Akcam shows his dedication to truth. Yes, he occasionally bogs down the discussion with the deep details...but he does an excellent job of showing how the Armenian genocide happened and describes a side of the argument so frequently ignored.You will not read this without feeling upset by the systematic betrayal of the truth and foolish decisions that influenced the modern-day Turkish position on the genocide.

  • Resalo
    2019-02-03 15:05

    After reading this book I feel both shock and anger at how the Armenian Genocide has been treated in history. Clearly the Ottoman government ordered the mass deportation and execution of close to 1 million Armenian men, women and children in 1915. Yet to this day no one will apologize nor take responsibility. Although this book is very well researched, I felt the writing was very repetitive and could have conveyed the history in far fewer pages. I am however glad that I read this.

  • Peter Thorn
    2019-01-29 15:21

    This was a brave book to write. The Turkish standpoint on this issue brooks no aggression, as pointed out by the author, so his viewpoint was not a popular one. It certainly can be a bit dry at times, but statistics and empirical data are undeniably what this book needs, rather than anecdotal evidence, in order to make the point of how undeniable this event is. The book is certainly useful, definitely interesting, but not always exactly a page turner - not that it should be.

  • Raquel
    2019-02-08 18:23

    This book was very interesting...I will have to admit that I knew nothing about the genocide on the Armenian people. But, in an attempt to provide the reader with every single detail leading up to the genocide events, the author had me lost, confused and bored. It was very difficult to finish reading the book because of such.

  • Brian
    2019-02-13 20:33

    A well-researched and detailed account of the Armenian genocide of 1915-17. The writing is a bit dry and can be repetitive and the book tends to jump back and forth along the timeline. Otherwise, wildly informative and incredibly persuasive.

  • Tulio
    2019-02-17 18:21

    dense but the definite dossier for the genocide.

  • Alain
    2019-02-10 21:27

    Traduction française pénible.

  • Murat Yücel
    2019-02-19 15:35

    An impostor, trying to exploit his Turkish ancestry. He's shouting too much, that you can undestand he's not just.

  • Gort
    2019-02-16 21:15

    Fugit quos ut. Ad dolorum qui illo. Doloremque tenetur consequuntur. Iure officiis provident illum suscipit quas et in.

  • Dean Athans
    2019-02-08 16:22

    Brave and well crafted.