Book Review: Paradise Lost by Giles Milton

The New Yorker
July 28 2008

Books Briefly Noted: Paradise Lost by Giles Milton
(Basic; $27.95)

In September, 1922, after the Turkish forces of Mustafa Kemal defeated
a Greek army that had recklessly occupied the Anatolian city of
Smyrna, members of Smyrna’s Greek, Armenian, and expatriate
communities were killed, raped, and robbed. Soon, a half million
people were trapped on the port’s narrow wharves, the city in flames
behind them; `The streets were stacked with dead,’ a British officer
wrote. Milton weaves the Armenian genocide, the birth of modern
Turkey, and the tragic inanities of Versailles into his story, but his
focus is the destruction of the multi-ethnic, religiously diverse
cosmopolis of Smyrna (now the Turkish city of Izmir). He has a
tendency to idolize the Levantines, dynasties of European `merchant
princes’ who remained oblivious as Greeks and Turks committed
atrocities closer and closer to their enclave. Milton’s more
compelling hero is Asa Jennings, a five-foot-tall
Y.M.C.A. administrator who, by bluffing, begging, and desperately
improvising, single-handedly saved tens of thousands of lives. ‘¦


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS