A Concise History of the Armenian People (from Ancient Times to the Present)

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Book Reviews


A Concise History of the Armenian People (From Ancient Times to the Present), by George Bournoutian. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2002. xiii + 499 pages. Text to p. 114. Time-lines, maps, and plates to p. 183. Part II text to p. 380. Time-lines, maps, and plates to p. 452. Bibl. to p. 467. Index to p. 499. $35.

George Bournoutian has produced the most up-to-date, concise, well rounded, one-- volume history of the Armenian people published in the English language to date, suitable to be used as a college textbook and also useful to intellectuals as well as to the general public. A.E. Redgate produced an outstanding one-volume history, The Armenians (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), but that book is skewed to the earlier period and spends only 24 pages covering the time from 1071 A.D. to the present. (Redgate's study is nonetheless recommended for those who might be interested in a book produced by a scholar learned in classical literature and in the Armenian chronicles.) Richard Hovannisian edited an excellent two-volume History of the Armenian People (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997) with chapters written by renowned experts, which might be more attractive to advanced scholars, though the attention it gives various periods of Armenian history is uneven.

Bournoutian, a Professor at Iona College, is a master of the critical languages which are necessary for writing a learned history of Armenia - including Persian, Armenian, Russian, some Turkish, and of course English. He has published eight previous books with Mazda Press, several of them critical English translations of chronicles and documents in Persian, Armenian, and Russian. Obviously, he is well read both in the primary as well as the secondary sources.

In A Concise History of the Armenian People, Bournoutian not only covers the areas of traditional, historic Armenia, but he also understands that because the Armenians, like the Greeks of ancient times and the Jews of more recent times, are a Diaspora people, their history is not limited to any one specific area of the globe. Thus, Bournoutian carries his story, in Part I, from ancient times and the origins of the Armenian people, through the period in Armenia of autonomous rulers and kings. He then covers the tug-of-war between Rome and Persia over Armenia, the conversion of Armenia to Christianity, the Arab domination over Armenia, the Armenian kingdom of the early Middle Ages, and finally the Cilician kingdom and Armenia's fraternization with the Crusaders. …


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