News Release

New book by University of Minnesota historian exposes Turkey's responsibility in Armenian genocide

Book Announcement

University of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (11/13/2006) -- Taner Akçam, a University of Minnesota visiting professor of history, has written the definitive book proving the intent of the Ottoman Turks in carrying out the 1915 genocide against the Armenians. "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" makes unique, groundbreaking use of Turkish, European, and American records to finally tell the full story of how and why the Ottoman–Turkish Government attempted to exterminate their Armenian citizens.

The first Turkish scholar to use the word "genocide" when describing the annihilation of the Armenians in 1915 and the first scholar of any nationality to uncover the significant evidence, Akçam follows the chain of events which led to the killings and reconstructs their systematic orchestration by government officials, civil servants, party hacks, state-run militias, and the army. Piecing together the story through meticulous research and an array of previously unseen documents, Akçam also investigates the postwar efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice and articulates why they failed.

"A Shameful Act" is released at a critical time, when Turkey's past is affecting their application to join the European Union, and France is considering a law making denial of the Armenian genocide a crime.

Taner Akçam is available for international interviews via Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

The book is available beginning Nov. 14 (Metropolitan Books).


About Taner Akçam

Sociologist and historian Taner Akçam was born in the province of Ardahan, Turkey, in 1953. He became interested in Turkish politics at an early age. As the editor in chief of a student political journal, he was arrested in 1976 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Amnesty International adopted him as one of their first prisoners of conscience, and a year later he escaped by digging a tunnel with a stove leg and fled to Germany, where he received political asylum.

In 1988, Akçam began work as a research scientist at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research. While researching the late Ottoman Empire and early Republic, especially the history of political violence and torture in Turkey, he became interested in the Armenian genocide. In 1996 he received his doctorate from the University of Hanover with a dissertation entitled The Turkish National Movement and the Armenian Genocide Against the Background of the Military Tribunals in Istanbul Between 1919 and 1922. Since 2002 he has been a visiting associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota. He is generally considered the first Turkish scholar to use the word "genocide" when describing what happened to the Armenians in 1915.

Akçam is the author of ten books and numerous articles in Turkish, German, English, and other languages. "Dialogue Across an International Divide: Essays Towards a Turkish-Armenian Dialogue" has been translated into Hebrew. "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" will also be translated into Italian, Polish, and French.

Orhan Pamuk says, " 'A Shameful Act' is the definitive account of the organized destruction of the Ottoman Armenians written by a brave Turkish scholar who has devoted his life to chronicling the events. No future discussion of the history will be able to ignore this brilliant book."

Reviews of "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility"

New Yorker (November 6, 2006):

The Economist (October 19, 2006): "…timely and well-researched…"

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