Robert Melson


The twenty-fourth of April 1915 is the date that marks the commencement of the Armenian Genocide. On that day, Grigoris Balakian, a high-ranking Armenian priest, was among the 250 Armenian religious, political, and cultural leaders who were arrested in Constantinople and sent 200 miles east to Chankiri to await their fate. While most of his companions were killed or died during the genocide, Balakian survived both the genocide and World War I. When the war ended in 1918, he started to write Armenian Golgotha. This is an astonishing memoir and meditation on his survival and on the course of the mass murder that destroyed more than half of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It is first-hand testimony from a terrible time by a knowledgeable and historically informed witness who was intent not only on recalling his experiences but also on leaving a documented record behind. The book was translated by the gifted poet and historian Peter Balakian— Grigoris Balakian was Peter’s great-uncle—with the able assistance of Aris Sevag. Peter Balakian supplies an important and illuminating introductory essay that helps the reader navigate the text.