Letters & Reviews
BERLIN, 16th September 2016
Mr. Mardig Madenjian
1448 Atchinson St. Pasadena, CA 91104-1546
United States of America
Dear Mister Madenjian,
Reference number: 21-624 03-8-1/10 (please quote in all correspondence)
Thank you very much indeed for your letter to Federal President Joachim Gauck and for your book attached to the letter. The Federal President receives a large quantity of correspondence every day. He is therefore not in a position to respond personally to your letter. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.
The President attaches great importance to remembering the victims and crimes committed against the Armenian people especially during 1915 and therefore welcomed the idea of a resolution of the German Bundestag. Already in April 2015 the Federal President talked publicly about the role played by the German Reich as an ally of the Ottoman Empire in the atrocities that took place one hundred years ago. He spoke about the assistance provided by the German military in planning and, to a certain extent, in carrying out the deportations of the Armenians and noted that the political leaders of the time had willfully chosen to ignore the annihilation of the Armenians for strategic reasons. As a result, Germany bore a shared "responsibility, perhaps even guilt, in the genocide committed against the Armenians".
With your book, and all your personal effort to bring it to life, you have contributed to the sometimes painful yet indispensable process of historiographic commemoration.
Let me, once again, thank you very much for your letter and your book. I wish to you and your family success and and all the best.
Carsten Thiele Division 21 (European Policy)
A LETTER FROM GERMAN CHANCELLOR DR. ANGELA MERKEL
Do you recognize this lady? She is the Iron Lady of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel. Her secretary mailed to me a letter on her behalf, with an autographed photo. The letter mentioned:
"The Chancellor of the Republic of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel has received your letter dated July 20, 2016.
"She thanks you for your kind words and for your book "Ravished Paradise, Forced March to Nothingness." With great interest she read about your detailed research and documentation concerning the history of your family."
I had sent a copy of my award winner book to Germany's President, Mr. Joachim Gauck, to Chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel and German representative Cem Özdemir MdB., as a token of thank you for the Bundestag's resolution recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide.
The next day, after mailing the book and a letter, I received an E-Mail informing me that my book had won First Place in the 2016 Hollywood Book Festival's history category. I wished I had waited just another day to inform them about the award too.
"Mardig Madenjian's Ravished Paradise: Forced March to Nothingness memorializes his parents' powerful story and conjures up haunting images of the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. His book makes an important contribution towards the Scholarship of the genocide and provides an intimate look at this dark chapter in human history."
Congressman of California's 28th District
Ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
July 8, 2015
"Mardig Madenjian's Ravished Paradise: Forced March to Nothingness powerfully combines both historical fact and personal stories in conveying the horrors that took place during the Armenian Genocide. Many hours were spent researching and preparing the painful stories of his parents and the two million victims of the genocide, illuminating an oft-neglected part of history that should be known to all. One cannot help but feel shock when following the mistreatment and forced march of entire villages and families. The tragic stories in this book lay an even more compelling reason as to why the Armenian Genocide must be recognized."
Judy Chu, Ph.D.
Congresswoman Rep. 27th District
Aug. 14, 2015
In this ambitious work of narrative history, a son of survivors of a genocide revisits the past that they could not.
Madenjian (St. Rita of Cascia: Saint of the Impossible, 2011), who grew up in the United States and worked as an editor at an Armenian-English newspaper, writes that he was never able to get his parents to candidly discuss the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Following their deaths, he began writing about his heritage himself. This book, the first in a planned trilogy, begins in the fourteenth century, when the last Latin king of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia surrenders to Muslim Mameluk forces. In the unrest that follows, some Christians acquiesce to Muslim rule and others resist. A group of faithful Christian families, led by an aging soldier named Bados, settle a new village in Chongaria, later called Chepni, located in present-day central Turkey. Madenjian descends from these founding families, and by reimagining his ancestors’ lives, he puts indelible characters into the often faceless tales of atrocities committed against the Armenian people throughout centuries of Ottoman rule. The culmination of the conflict came during World War I, when the Ottoman Empire began to dissolve and authorities sought to exterminate the remaining Armenian people. Madenjian describes this genocide largely through the perspectives of his own parents, then just children, who lived through the Chepni massacre. There are moments in this book when the author’s raw emotion leads to unfair generalizations, as when he writes in the introduction that if some Turks “find the opportunity, they will repeat the mass murders, because killing is part of the Turkish instinct and nature.” His taste for detail also sometimes bogs down the narrative, as when he overexplains the causes of World War I. However, his meticulousness pays off beautifully when he reconstructs his relatives’ and others’ experiences.
An exhaustively researched, if sometimes excessively detailed, book about a tragic event in modern history.
RECLAIMING RAVISHED PARADISE
Aftermath Armenian Genocide
A family history chronicles the life of an Armenian couple who were separated from their homeland.
Both Hovsep Madenjian and Varteni Sarian were made orphans by the Turkish massacre of Armenians during World War I and forced to flee to Beirut, Lebanon. Hovsep met Varteni at the orphanage that housed her, was taken by her beauty, and was eager to marry someone to perpetuate his family-line. She was less impressed by him and particularly turned off by his blue eyes and Catholicism – two things she loathed. However, he eventually won her over, apparently by professing his allegiance to a more progressive interpretation of marriage as a partnership. They struggled to have children – Varteni's first two pregnancies ended in miscarriage – but she finally gave birth to a son, Mardig Madenjian (Ravished Paradise, 2015, etc.), the author of this second volume in a trilogy. The first installment tracked the history of Armenians from the 14th century to the horror of their oppression in the early 20th, and this second volume details the tumultuous aftermath of the Armenian genocide and the new challenges that World War II presented. Hovsep and Varteni had their share of challenges in Beirut – overwhelmed by refugees, the city's economy suffered and decent employment was scarce, even for someone as impressively educated as Hovsep, who could speak four languages. The author jumps seamlessly between his parents' struggles to those of all Armenians; for example, he ably discusses the rise of the Tashnag Party in Beirut, the Armenian demand for independence from France, the strain that the Palestinian War put on Lebanon, the intramural disputes between Lebanese Christians and Muslims, and the impact of the Soviet Union's collapse. Madenjian always expertly catalogs the aching desire of the Armenian diaspora to return home, as well as its diminishing likelihood; he also addresses their demand that their brutal mistreatment by Turkey be properly acknowledged, if not redressed. His command of the historical record is extraordinary, although he tends to bury readers under a mountain of minutiae; also, this is a nakedly partisan history, laced with resentment toward the Turks.
Nevertheless, Madenjian still manages an unusual combination of the personal and historical, rendering global events with the tools of novelistic drama.
A gripping story of a family's – and a whole people's – displacement. – Kirkus Reviews
"…Madenjian's fascinating book tells personal stories with geographical and historical richness, political intrigues and providing a factual story rich in human pathos, leaving the reader in shock at man's inhumanity to man and in awe of man's endurance through suffering. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, this is a story which should be told and which we should all hear."
Diana Severance, author of Against the Gates of Hell,
Director of the Dunham Bible Museum,
Houston Baptist University
"I was profoundly moved by this very informative book written by Mardig Madenjian, which helps to illuminate and personalize a dark chapter in history."
Leila Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Mardig Madenjian has written a brilliant book with vast scopes which documents the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, most fitting in this the 100th anniversary year… This incredible book is documented witness to the tragedy, but also shows the will to live…"
Praise for the published Armenian version translated by the author.
"…You have done a fascinating work by showing the path our martyrs took and immortalizing their memory..."
H. E. Arch. Hovnan Derderian
Primate of Western Diocese of the
Armenian Church of North America
"…We highly appreciate your laborious work, which with an artistic approach, but also by way of in-depth research, you brought into light the historic tragedy of our people, the painful historic truth, the genocide and its consequences... This volume is a monument and an additional testimony about the Genocide… The peculiar developments that you disclose are additional evidence about the painful historic truths, very important from the point of view of the recognition of our cause and our demands."
H. E. Arch. Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate of Armeniand Church of America
"… With patient research and hard work you have succeeded to free your conscience from your duty toward your parents and your nation. You can proudly say to your mother, 'Mother I wrote your story.' You truly wrote, with details and evidence of the truth. Ravished Paradise is a new source for the recognition and the expansion of the Armenian Genocide history."
Khajak Arch. Barsamian, Primate
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
"Your language and method of writing magnetized me and made me live the Genocide for the second time; you made me get so engaged with your story. Bravo."
Father Armenak Bedrossian
Pastor of "Our Lady Queen of Martyrs" Church, Los Angeles
"…The book contains facts, memoirs, factual stories taken from different sources, Armenian and foreign, and presents our cause and our just demands…"
Massis Weekly, mouthpiece of
Hunchak Socialist Party June 29, 2013
"…other than representing Turkey's genocidal act with irrefutable proofs, it is also a priceless source of information for the scholars studying the genocide…"
Sahag Seraydarian, philanthropist
"Mardig Madenjian has written a brilliant book with vast scope which documents the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, most fitting in this the 100th anniversary year. The details of the times and geopolitical facts of the period set the frame for the families whose lives are swept into the scheme for annihilation. These lives are representative of millions affected by the terror of the period. The book is even more relevant today in light of the against all odds triumphs of the Armenian diaspora who have thrived in their new environments as they scattered around the globe in an effort to survive. Tens of thousands of orphans, families and members of the community remember and always will. This incredible book is a documented witness to the tragedy, but also shows the will to live and do so in His grace and with the strength of the Lord. It is an important document to share with all as if people do not remember, Madenjian implies, humanity is destined to repeat such history. The incredible book, so cinematic in quality, needs to be read widely. Readers will long remember the stories of real people told in a manner whch can only be said as truth finally realized. A must read!
".. In your book the villagers of Chepni look not only real, but are living creatures. The Turk, rude and imperious, with his Mullah, the Armenian priest, the Armenian teacher, the cultivator, the ordinary man, all are there, described with their good and bad human characters, and their communal dissensions…"
Serop Yeretsian, author and teacher