Born in 1876, Grigoris Balakian was one of the leading Armenian intellectuals of his generation. In Ottoman Turkey he attended Armenian schools and seminary; and in Germany he studied, at different times, engineering and theology. He was one of the 250 cultural leaders (intellectuals, clergy, teachers, and political and community leaders) arrested by the Turkish government on the night of April 24, 1915, and deported to the interior. Unlike the vast majority of his conationals, he survived nearly four years in the killing fields. Ordained as a celibate priest (vartabed) in 1901, he later became a bishop and prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church in southern France. He is the author of various books and monographs (some of them lost) on Armenian culture and history, including The Ruins of Ani (1910) and Armenian Golgotha, volume 1 (1922) and volume 2 (1959). He died in Marseilles in 1934.
Peter Balakian is the author of The Burning Tigris:
The Armenian Genocide and America's Response, winner of the
2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize, a New York Times best seller, and
a New York Times Notable Book; and of Black Dog of
Fate, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of
Memoir, also a New York Times Notable Book. Grigoris
Balakian was his great-uncle.
"A fascinating first-hand testimony to a monumental crime."
--The New Yorker
"Gripping. . . . A powerful and important book. . . . It takes
its place as one of the key first-hand sources for understanding
the Armenian Genocide."
--Mark Mazower, The New Republic
"Powerful. . . . Riveting. . . . A poignant, often harrowing
story about the resiliency of the human spirit [and] a window on a
moment in history that most Americans only dimly understand."
--Chris Bohjalian, Washington Post
"An immensely moving, harrowing memoir that instantly takes its
place as a classic alongside Primo Levi's Survival in
Auschwitz and Elie Wiesel's Night."
--Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Read this heartbreaking book. Armenian Golgotha
describes the suffering, agony and massacre of innumerable Armenian
families almost a century ago; its memory must remain a lesson for
more than one generation."
--Elie Wiesel, author of Night
"An appalling and magnificent book. . . . It owes its existence
to [Balakian's] determination to survive to write it . . . a sacred
task that gives him the strength to persevere through the
impossible circumstances that killed well over a million of his
--Benjamin Moser, Harper's
"Shocking and brilliant. . . . Exquisitely rendered. . . . This
book has the feel of a classic about it, and I suspect that future
writers on historical trauma and its representation will turn
eagerly to Armenian Golgotha. It's a massively important
contribution to this field."
--Jay Parini, The Chronicle of Higher Education
"An extraordinary narrative . . . beautifully translated. . . .
Armenian Golgotha will influence Armenian genocide studies
--John A. C. Greppin, The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Monumental. . . . Balakian provides strong evidence that these
gruesome proceedings were carried out under official orders from
the highest level. . . . For generations to come Armenian
Golgotha will remain a first-hand documentation of a historic
tragedy written from the perspective of a talented scholar."
--Henry Morgenthau, III, Boston Sunday Globe
"[A work] of exceptional interest and scholarship."
--Christopher Hitchens, Slate
"The translation and publication of Armenian Golgotha in
English is long overdue. It constitutes a thundering historical
proof that those who deny the Armenian Genocide are engages in a
--Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory
"Groundbreaking. . . . Comprehensive. . . . Sobering. . . .
Armenian Golgotha is replete with narratives that focus on
collective suffering, marking this memoir as one of the few to
explicate the true nature of the crime. . . . Balakian's memory is
extraordinary, but so, too, are his intellect, his compassion and
his ethical obligation to immortalize his beloved
--Donna-Lee Frieze, The Jewish Daily Forward
"An Armenian equivalent to the testimonies of Holocaust
survivors like Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel."
--Adam Kirsch, Nextbook
"The descriptions of the Armenian genocide are striking and the
author spares his readers none of the gruesome details. . . . A
riveting and powerful indictment of a genocide that became a
paradigm for future genocides."
--Holger H. Herwig, The Gazette (Montreal)
"An essential memoir, a lively and extraordinary life story. . .
. This is more than an eyewitness account, it is a masterful
history in its own right."
--Seth J. Frantzman, The Jerusalem Post
"Weighted with eyewitness accounts and distinguished by
Balakian's prodigiously sharp memory, this book is not a scholar's
history, of course, but an educated prelate's, with an enviable
grasp of Ottoman and European history. . . . Memory and hope for
the future live in seminal texts such as Armenian
--Keith Garebian, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
"A powerful, moving account of the Armenian Genocide, a story
that needs to be known, and is told here with a sweep of experience
and wealth of detail that is as disturbing as it is
--Sir Martin Gilbert
"Extraordinary. . . . This book will become a classic, both for
its depiction of a much denied genocide and its humane and
brilliant witness to what human beings can endure and
--Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
"Witness literature of the highest order, to be put aside the
great testimony from the Shoah. . . . Required reading for those
who wish to comprehend the 20th century."
--Robert Leiter, The Jewish Exponent
"An astonishing memoir. . . . An important primary document
concerning the Armenian Genocide. . . . A major addition to the
literature of witness and testimony."
--Robert Melson, Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal