Originally published in 1918, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story is one of the most insightful and compelling accounts of what became a recurring horror during the twentieth century: ethnic cleansing and genocide. While he served as the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire under Woodrow Wilson from 1913 to 1916, Henry Morgenthau witnessed the rise of a new nationalism in Turkey, one that declared "Turkey for the Turks." He grew alarmed as he received reports from missionaries and consuls in the interior of Turkey that described the deportation and massacre of the Armenians, The ambassador beseeched the U.S. government to intervene, but it refrained, leaving Morgenthau without official leverage. His recourse was to appeal personally to the consciences of Ottoman rulers and their German allies; when that failed, he drew international media attention to the genocide and spearheaded private relief efforts.
"The power of Morgenthau's book to move and instruct us eighty years after its publication," writes Roger Smith in his introduction, "is intimately connected with its truthfulness about the atrocities and the men behind them, but also about the capacities of humans to commit enormous evil with a light heart." The memoir also documents the beginnings of U.S. interest in international human rights as well as patterns and symptoms of genocidal tendencies, foreshadowing most notably the Nazi Holocaust.
Peter Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities and a professor of English at Colgate University, where he was the first director of the Center for Ethics and World Societies. He is the author of the prize-winning memoir Black Dog of Fate. Robert Jay Lifton, one of the most distinguished social critics and psychohistorians writing today, is Visiting Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Roger Smith is a professor of Government at the College of William and Mary and is the president of the Association of Genocide Scholars of North America. Henry Morgenthau III is a retired television producer and writer.
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