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Book Launch of The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian - 31 March 2004

Today, as Turkey seeks to join the EU, it still denies the horror from the last years of the Ottoman Empire presided over by its government when over a million people were slaughtered in the first genocide of the modern world. Indeed, Peter Balakian argues that this genocide showed the way to the Nazis as they formulated their own 'Final Solution' to the Jewish question. Today, as we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the massacres in Rwanda, the question of ethnic cleansing is still one that burns with relevance.

'The terrible fate of the Armenians, whose attempted destruction provided a template for the Jewish Holocaust, is brilliantly described, as is the remarkable response of the United States, in the face of a humanitarian tragedy of a type that has, unfortunately, been repeated again and again, into our twenty-first century. Peter Balakian has done a great service to the history of the Armenians.'
Sir Martin Gilbert

Peter Balakian reveals the three stages of persecution of the Armenian people, from the relatively small-scale massacres under Abdul Hamid II to the ethnic cleansing undertaken by the forces of the Committee of Union and Progress under the cover of the First World War. Balakian makes use of the eye-witness accounts of US diplomats and missionaries and the terrible testimony of the persecutors themselves during the short-lived trials of the 1920s. He exposes the failures of the great powers to respond effectively – just as they failed to halt later genocides. And he shows how the issue of oil changed the focus of US foreign policy in the 1920s so that the fate of the Armenians was forgotten and the lessons of the genocide ignored.

Compelling and authoritative, this groundbreaking book restores the Armenian tragedy to its rightful place in history. Published in the memorial month of the Armenian genocide, as New York Life Insurance finally settles the claims of some thousands of the victims' families ninety years after their deaths, The Burning Tigris brings the forgotten genocide back to the forefront of public awareness.

Also see: Review of The Burning Tigris in the Times Literary Supplement and Critical Responses to this Review

The Author at Book Launch on 31st March, 2004 in LondonPeter Balakian is Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University. He is the author of Black Dog of Fate, which won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Award. He lives in Hamilton, New York. Peter Balakian will be in the UK at publication.

Published by William Heinemann (Price £18.99)
For information please contact Cassie Chadderton,
Publicity Director, William Heinemann,
on 020 7 840 8773 or email

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