The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey

The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide is a 2006 book by Guenter Lewy, published by the University of Utah Press, about the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.


The sources used are in European languages only; he never used sources originally written in Armenian or in Turkish. Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville wrote that Armenian sources would get more representation compared to Turkish sources and documents from the imperial archives since more Armenian sources had been translated into European languages.[1] Armenian Genocide historian Taner Akçam of Clark University stated that in general Western researchers were not aware of the majority of Armenian or Turkish materials, as well as Russian ones, due to the language barrier.[2]


The work focuses on the Armenian Genocide during 1915-1916 and provides no coverage of subsequent years.[3]

Lewy argued that there was not enough evidence to support the conclusion that the Ottoman government deliberately attempted to destroy the Armenian population through a genocide.[1] Akçam stated that this was the "central thesis" of the book with this statement made on several occasions. The author stated that the high death toll was simply a byproduct of the conditions of the marches and on sporadic attacks rather than a planned attempt to kill the Armenians.[4] Edward J. Erickson of The Middle East Journal stated "He does not attempt to answer the question, "was it a genocide or not?""[3]

According to the author, evidence that stated that the genocide was deliberate was doctored:[1] The Memoirs of Naim Bey,[4] the documents of the Turkish courts-martial of 1919–1920, and other documents related to the Special Organization (SO). He also argued that hearsay formed the basis of The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (nicknamed the "Blue Book"),[5] and that the speech made by Reşit Akif Pasha accusing the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) Central Committee of instigating a genocide was dishonestly made.[6]

Lewy, who decided that a lack of competence in the Ottoman authorities was the reason for the deaths,[5] as well as local government officials disobeying the central government,[7] includes criticisms of the Ottoman government, stating that it took too harsh action against perceived Armenian threats,[8] that the amount of Armenian deaths and damage exceeded that of what the Turks experienced, and that the Ottoman government did not provide adequate protections for any ethnic group.[1]

Lewy's book includes criticisms of Vahakn Dadrian's work.[1]


Akçam argued that the central thesis of the book was an unproven theory while Lewy himself argued that the idea of genocide being planned was a theory; Akçam also stated that there were other documents that proved the genocide was planned.[9] Akçam also stated that the author misinterpreted some documents, that his lack of skills in Turkish hampered his research,[2] and that Lewy was not informed of current research. In addition Akçam disliked the author's dichotomy of "Armenian" and "Turkish" "sides" to the Armenian genocide denial dispute,[10] as it conflates Armenians of differing allegances together and because "it should be an unacceptable attitude for asocial scientist to classify the differences of interpretation of these events according to ethnic origin."[11]

McCarthy wrote that it as "an outstanding work of historiography".[1]

Michael M. Gunter, after having written a positive statement that was used on the cover of The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey, wrote a review of the book for the International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) without the editors' knowledge that he had made the positive statement. History News Network stated that the review "reportedly arrived in their office sans cover."[12] Two academics, Joseph A. Kéchichian,[13] and Keith David Watenpaugh,[14] criticized the presence of the review in the IJMES. Gunter issued a response to his critics.[12]


  • Akçam, Taner (Spring 2008). "Guenter Lewy's The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey". Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal. International Association of Genocide Scholars/University of Toronto Press. 3 (1): 111–145. doi:10.1353/gsp.2011.0087. - Article #8 Available at Project MUSE
  • Kéchichian, Joseph A. (August 2007). "A Response to Michael Gunter's Review of "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide (IJMES 38 [2006]: 598-601)"". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 39 (3): 509–512. doi:10.1017/S0020743807070857. JSTOR 30069560.
  • McCarthy, Justin (University of Louisville) (Summer 2007). "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide. By Guenter Lewy. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005. xiii, 370 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Glossary. Index. Maps. Tables. $24.95, hard bound". Slavic Review. 66 (2): 337–338. doi:10.2307/20060247. JSTOR 20060247.
  • Watenpaugh, Keith David (August 2007). "A Response to Michael Gunter's Review of the Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide (Ijmes 38 [2006]: 598–601". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 39 (3): 512–514. doi:10.1017/S0020743807070869. JSTOR 30069561.


  1. ^ a b c d e f McCarthy, p. 337.
  2. ^ a b Akçam, p. 117.
  3. ^ a b Erickson, Edward J. (Spring 2006). "ARMENIANS: The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide". The Middle East Journal. - Available on Questia
  4. ^ a b Akçam, p. 112.
  5. ^ a b Akçam, p. 114.
  6. ^ Akçam, p. 113.
  7. ^ Akçam, p. 115.
  8. ^ Brown, L. Carl (2006-05-01). "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2019-06-22.
  9. ^ Akçam, p. 116.
  10. ^ Akçam, p. 118.
  11. ^ Akçam, p. 119.
  12. ^ a b "Michael Gunter: He blurbed a book ... Should he then have reviewed it?". History News Network. Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  13. ^ Kéchichian, p. 509.
  14. ^ Watenpaugh, Extract.

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