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Yerevan, Armenia 07/02/2012

 I am in Yerevan, Armenia. My son Shant has been here for two weeks working as a counselor at a camp for orphans in Tzadadzor north of Yerevan. He is with three of his friends from the U.S. and we are now touring Armenia for a week before coming home. Yesterday I took the Metro (subway) to my favorite monument: Sassountsi Tavid (David of Sassoun).

The hotel we are staying at is called the Villa Delenda. It is a small rustic bed and breakfast (with Wifi and AC!) Its in downtown Yerevan. Check it out at at

Most of the hotel guests are from Europe and many are not Armenian. It is fascinating talking to these people who have come here and why. Most are amazed of the richness of the culture.

For photos check out the novel's Facebook Page.




Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1913-16)

This is a quote from the book "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story" who was the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey before WWI. The below quote from his book describes the torture, annihilation and deportation of the Armenian race within the Ottoman Empire during this time period. Today is April 24th - Armenian Martyrs Day. I have placed this in my journal today to commemorate this day. Keri Topouzian

“One day I was discussing these proceedings with a responsible Turkish official, who was describing the tortures inflicted. He made no secret of the fact that the Government had instigated them, and, like all Turks of the official classes, he enthusiastically approved this treatment of the detested race. This official told me that all these details were matters of nightly discussion at the headquarters of the Union and Progress Committee. Each new method of inflicting pain was hailed as a splendid discovery, and the regular attendants were constantly ransacking their brains in the effort to devise some new torment. He told me that they even delved into the records of the Spanish Inquisition and other historic institutions of torture and adopted all the suggestions found there. He did not tell me who carried off the prize in this gruesome competition, but common reputation through Armenia gave a preeminent infamy to Djevdet Bey, the Vali of Van, whose activities in that section I have already described. All through this country Djevdet was generally known as the "horseshoer of Bashkale" for this connoisseur in torture had invented what was perhaps the masterpiece of all — that of nailing horseshoes to the feet of his Armenian victims.

Yet these happenings did not constitute what the newspapers of the time commonly referred to as the Armenian atrocities; they were merely the preparatory steps in the destruction of the race. The Young Turks displayed greater ingenuity than their predecessor, Abdul Hamid. The injunction of the deposed Sultan was merely "to kill, kill", whereas the Turkish democracy hit upon an entirely new plan. Instead of massacring outright the Armenian race, they now decided to deport it. In the south and southeastern section of the Ottoman Empire lie the Syrian desert and the Mesopotamian valley. Though part of this area was once the scene of a flourishing civilization, for the last five centuries it has suffered the blight that becomes the lot of any country that is subjected to Turkish rule; and it is now a dreary, desolate waste, without cities and towns or life of any kind, populated only by a few wild and fanatical Bedouin tribes. Only the most industrious labour, expended through many years, could transform this desert into the abiding place of any considerable population. The Central Government now announced its intention of gathering the two million or more Armenians living in the several sections of the empire and transporting them to this desolate and inhospitable region. Had they undertaken such a deportation in good faith it would have represented the height of cruelty and injustice. As a matter of fact, the Turks never had the slightest idea of reestablishing the Armenians in this new country. They knew that the great majority would never reach their destination and that those who did would either die of thirst and starvation, or be murdered by the wild Mohammedan desert tribes. The real purpose of the deportation was robbery and destruction; it really represented a new methods of massacre. When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.

[paragraphs omitted]

I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915. The slaughter of the Albigenses in the early part of the thirteenth century has always been regarded as one of the most pitiful events in history. In these outbursts of fanaticism about 60,000 people were killed. In the massacre of St. Bartholomew about 30,000 human beings lost their lives. The Sicilian Vespers, which has always figured as one of the most fiendish outbursts of this kind, caused the destruction of 8,000. Volumes have been written about the Spanish Inquisition under Torquemada, yet in the eighteen years of his administration only a little more that 8,000 heretics were done to death. Perhaps the one event in history that most resembles the Armenian deportations was the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. According to Prescott 160,000 were uprooted from their homes and scattered broadcast over Africa and Europe. Yet all these previous persecutions seem almost trivial when we compare them with the sufferings of the Armenians, in which at least 600,000 people were destroyed and perhaps as many as 1,000,000. And these earlier massacres when we compare them with the spirit that directed the Armenian atrocities, have one feature that we can almost describe as an excuse: they were the product of religious fanaticism and most of the men and women who instigated them sincerely believed that they were devoutly serving their Maker. Undoubtedly religious fanaticism was an impelling motive with the Turkish and Kurdish rabble who slew Armenians as a service to Allah, but the men who really conceived the crime had no such motive. Practically all of them were atheists, with no more respect for Mohammedanism than for Christianity, and with them the one motive was cold-blooded, calculating state policy.”[1]


[1] Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.: 1919), pp. 307-309, 321-323.


Life in the Village of Tchingiler: Utopia or Dystopia?

Or maybe I am just being nearsighted and we are talking Myopia... What was it really like to live in Tchingiler or for that matter any small Armenian village one hundred years ago. I am sure that there were good times and bad depending on the economy, the degree of oppression and how isolated you could keep yourself.

Or perhaps it would depend on your business relationships with other ethnic groups. Maybe it depended on the respect of others that you may have earned. Or bribes... There are any number of scenarios you could come up with that could make living in this past a hell or heaven. And I am sure it was a dynamic relationship influenced by deeds, prejudices and chance.

What was the average life expectancy back then? Or the mortality rate at birth?

What was the attitude of the average Armenian that lived in these villages? Were they happy?

One can dream about living back in those days. It would be an education to be able to go back in time to see what it was really like. Some of us might even decide to stay and live in the past. Others might realize how lucky they are to live where and when they do today. I for one would like to go back and see... Just as a vacation mind you. But depending on what I found, it may be worth living a shorter quality life than one of quantity. Either way, I could brush up on my Armenian (-'


From Victim To Victor

As recent as the 1900s,  Armenians as well as other ethnic minorities were victims of genocide, starvation, exportation, rape, torture, you name it, it happened. With some cultures, this has been a theme for generations.

Offspring can inherit part of this psyche of victimization which can breed melancholy, depression, fear, inferiority and even dis-ease.

What's the good news? It's not a given. You don't have to travel that road just because its in your past. Look, if I told you 25 years ago that the Soviet Union would break up and numerous free republics  would be born including a free Armenia, a free Artsagh, and you could go there anytime you want... You would have told me I was on drugs. The past does not equal the future.

Simply put, the book "A Perfect Armenian" needs to exist to help further the shift from negative to positive, from loser to champion, from unjust to righteous, from victim to victor.


A Fresh Look: The Editing Process

When you have been engulfed in a project for years like I have with "A Perfect Armenian", it's really cool to get an outsider's view of the story. In this case I am speaking of my editors.

Editors are like having a mechanic look at your ride and tell you what needs to be tweaked, fixed or removed. They see things from a whole other prospective and show you aspects that you may never have seen or may have forgotten about.

Editors are also like janitors (don't tell them I said that) as they go in and clean up your mess so that when the readers come in the next day, they can sail through without slipping on an illogical thought you left.

Editors are like jewelers who take your precious stone and evolve it into a precise gem.

That's what it is like when I meet with my editors. It's a blast.

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