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HomeBooks & ReviewsBooks on TURKS and TÜRKİYE in Pejorative Terms

Books on TURKS and TÜRKİYE in Pejorative Terms

Yuksel Oktay
Yuksel Oktay

The American professor, Justin McCharty, in his book ‘’Who are the Turks’’, prepared for teachers, begins Lesson 1 with the following statement: History books tend to represent the Turks in a somewhat negative fashion and current newspapers, especially in Europe, refer to Turks in pejorative (1) terms. However, the name is historical in origin and often geographic in location. Students need to look at the issue of Turkish identity and try to determine the factors which help contribute to the name ‘’Turk.’’ (2).

Although the above statement is for students, it also applies to the general public and to teachers and professors. There are hundreds and thousands of books on Turks and Türkiye, published in English and in many other languages, which reflect the above sentiment. A book published by Pandora bookstore in İstanbul, ‘’Books on Turkey’’ lists over 2,000 in 15 different categories. The book is not limited to works on Türkiye and also includes historical, cultural, social, and political research carried out on countries extending from the Balkans to the Middle East. In the introduction, the aim of the book is stated to be the familiarization of Turkey, as well as presenting a functional manual for academics, researchers, and for those who want to get informed about Turkey (3).
The purpose of this article is to present information primarily on books that do not tell the truth about the Turks and Türkiye, either though omissions or fabrications and falsifications for propaganda purposes. There are many examples of this, but some nationalist Armenians and their supporters stand out as the main users of books as propaganda material to deceive the readers with false and fabricated events, stories and myths. Armenia is the only state in the  world which continues a propaganda policy directed to Turks and Turkiye, carried on by some nationalist Armenians and writers around the world and especially in the United States, England and France, where a large Armenian diaspora is active, and some Turks too. They produce hundreds and thousands of books that tell only one side of the events of the World War I and the role of the Armenians in creating one of the tragedies of the 20th century, the mythical genocide.
The prime example of the propaganda book is ‘’Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story’’ by the US Ambassador to Turkey 1913 – 1916 (4). A chapter from the book was published under the heading, ‘’The Murder of a Nation’’ by the Armenian Benevolent Association in New Jersey. A review of the book which is totally one sided is given below. The same American Ambassador is also known for providing false and fabricated stories to Arnold Toynbee and James Bryce who wrote ‘’Treatment of Armenians During the Otoman period‘’, also known as The Blue Book, and which has been proven to be just as bad as the Ambassador’d story.
The footnote in “A Peace to End All Peace” by David Fromkin states the following: The Liberal statesman, historian, and jurist, James Bryce, a pro-Armenian who headed a commission to investigate the 1915 – 1916 Armenian Massacres during the war, issued a report that was damning to the C.U.P Government. Turkish spokesmen still claim that the Bryce report was a one-sided and distorted work of wartime propaganda, and cite the admission of Arnold Toynbee, one of Bryce’s assistants, that the report was intended to further Britain’s propaganda and policy objectives. In this it succeeded.”
Both books have been translated into Turkish and are available at bookstores and in many libraries, both in America and Turkiye.
There are many books that are referred to continuously, hiding the truth about the purpose of their publications, which is to discredit the Turks and Türkiye. Most of these are summarized in a book by Prof. Dr. Türkkaya Ataöv and referenced in Sukru Server Aya’s book, ‘’The Genocide of Truth.’’ Many Turkish and foreign writers also indicate this. Some of these are given below.

Memoirs of Naim Bey, Aram Andonian, 1918, published in France and England. This is supposedly the memoirs of an imaginary Ottoman official who worked in Aleppo during the resettlement of the Armenians and feeling sorry for the Armenians, decides to give the cipher of correspondence to the Armenians. The book claims the decoding of Talat Pasha’s telegrams instructing Ottoman officials to annihilate the Armenians, which is a fabrication.
The Forty Days of Musa DaghMusa Daginda Kirk Gün, by Franz Werfel, Belge Yayınları, first published in 1933. The book is extensively referenced and used by Armenian writers, which in fact includes made up stories which he believed were true, such as the memoirs of Naim Bey. Later the author confessed to one of his friends that some of the claims of Armenian massacres were in fact fabricated. In an article published in the Armenian Studies Quarterly Review about the book (Dec 2001, Vol. 4), Prof. Erich Feigl states that there is hardly another novel in world literature which caused so many misunderstandings and mischief to a nation as Werfel’s “”40  Days”, except perhaps “”The Elders of Zion,” which caused so much misery over the world of the Jews.
There are many books by Missionaries who also tell one side of the Armenian issue. Among these are ‘’The Red Rugs of Tarsus’’ and “An American Physician in Turkey – A Narrative of Adventures in Peace and in War,”  by Clarence D. Ussher, an American Physician and Missionary. The movie “Ararat” has been based on this book but with many distortions on an already distorted topic and dedicated to the Armenians only.
The Burning Tigris, by Peter Balakian is one of the worst books ever written and donated to almost every library in the US and probably around the world, telling only one side of  the tragedy, completely ignoring many references that state otherwise. Another biased book which starts with the Talat Pasha murder and goes on to show that the Armenian massacres were a genocide. (A review of the book is available).
An oversize book pubished in America, which is available in many libraries is :  Destination America – the People and Cultures that Created a Nation. This is suppose to be the strory of immigration to America but ignores the Turks as if they do not exist. A review of the book is given below.
Another book is by the present Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. Power, Faith and Fantasy’’ is a thick book on the involvement of US in the Middle East, but it completely ignores the role of the Turks, the Turkish Otoman Empire and the Turkish Republic.
Michael Oren’s Power Faith and Fantasy is among of 414 books listed in the Bibliography section of Stephen Kinzer’s latest book, RESET, including all the books given above. However, none of the books by writers who tell the true story of Turks and Türkiye are included, which makes one wonder why not. Prof Turkkaya Ataov has written over 100 books on the Armenian issue plus many othes including the 9/11 and famous painters. Prof. Justin McCharty is considered an authority on the Armenian issue and has over 25 books to his credit. GUnther Lewy, Samuel Weems and many others are also missing from the Bibliography, except a few such as Prof. Sina Aksin. Prof. Hakan Yavuz, Vamik Volkan, Prof. Ozel Soli, Halide Edip and a few others…
Then there are those who never stop writing in their government or university paid offices, always disregarding the truth and presenting biased views of Turks and Türkiye. Here are some examples of these so-called scholars:
Genocide: As a Poblem of national and International Law: The World War I Armenian case and Its Contemporary Ramifications , Vahakn N. Dadrian. The book has been translated into Turkish.

The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasians, Vahakn N. Dadrian. 1995, Berghahn Books, Providence , RI

A Problem from Hell – America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power

Armenia on the Road to Independence , 1918, by Richard Hovannissian, 1967
Balkan Ghosts, A Journey Through History, Robert D. Kaplan. The book is supposed to be about the Balkan States – Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, but the author includes a chapter, Epilogue: The Road to Adrinople, where he writes about Turkey. In Chapter 3, Kaplan manages to mention the death of 1.5 million Armenians, first referring to it as murder than later as the century’s first holocaust (p.63).
How to fight the propaganda disseminated through books
The above are only examples of books that presents a bad image of Turks and Türkiye, which needs to be corrected. Turkish-American associations in the US need to get involved with this and bring this to the attention of the American public through lectures, letters to the publishers and to the editors. And of course, the best way is to write books that tell the truth, as Sukru Server is doing with his second book to be published soon.
(1)    Pejorative – Asagılayacı
(2)    Who are the Turks – A Manual for Teachers, by Justin McCharty and Carolyn McCharty, Published by The American Forum for Global Education, 2003.
(3)    Books on Turkey by Pandora Bookstore, İstanbul
(4)    Ambassado Henry Morgenthau’s son spoke at the fist commemorative service at the Riverside Church in New York city on April 24, 1965
Yuksel Oktay

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