Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History

Article excerpt

Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History. By Joseph Yacoub. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. $29.95.

This important contribution to genocide studies documents how the world's oldest Christian communities-variously referred to as Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Arameans, but best known as Assyrians- were, along with the Armenians, "the victims of the [Ottoman] plan for exterminating Christianity, root and branch." In fact, as half of the Assyrian population was massacred- going from 600,000 to 300,000 in 1915-18- relative to their numbers, no other Christian group, including the Armenians, suffered as much under the Ottomans.

Yacoub, emeritus professor at the Catholic University of Lyon, offers copious documentation and reports from reliable eyewitnesses, state actors, and relief agencies that recount atrocities against the Assyrians, including massacres, rapes, death marches, and the destruction of some 250 churches. The eyewitness accounts are especially blood-curdling in their details.

According to Yacoub, Assyrians were not only "annihilated by the murderous madness of Ottoman power, driven by a hideous form of unbridled nationalism" but became victims due to a "policy of ethnic cleansing . …

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