Sometimes it seems that there’s nothing left to say about mass violence in the 20th century. But the new edited volume Let Them Not Return: Sayfo – The Genocide Against the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians in the Ottoman Empire (Berghahn Books, 2017), draws our attention to a conflict that even most scholars know little about—the persecution and killing of Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians during and after the First World War.
In the book, editors David Gaunt, Naures Atto, Soner O. Barthoma, provide a broad range of perspectives. With so little known about the violence, they provide historical perspectives on the long-term origins, analyses of individual and corporate responses, and reflections on the long term memory and impact of the conflict.
The book functions in some ways like an invitation—an invitation to learn something about peoples and suffering about which we know little, an invitation to consider how this violence should reshape how we think about the region during the first quarter of the 20th century, and an invitation to explore further what happened to the peoples at the heart of the book. Hopefully academics and others will take the invitation up.
Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.
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