Synopses & Reviews
Over the last two centuries, ethnic cleansing has remade the map of Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, transforming vast multi-ethnic empires into nearly homogeneous nations. Towns and cities from Germany to Turkey still show the traces of the vanished and nearly forgotten ethnic and religious communities that once called these places home. In the modern Greek city of Thessaloniki, for example, the ruins of a vast Jewish cemetery lie buried under the city's university, while nearby is the site of the childhood home of one of the founders of the modern Turkish state tantalizing reminders of what was once the bustling cosmopolitan city of Salonica, home not just to Greeks but to thousands of Sephardic Jews, Turks, Bulgarians, and Armenians living and working peacefully alongside one another. In Terrible Fate, Benjamin Lieberman describes the violent transformations that occurred in Salonica and hundreds of other towns and cities as the Ottoman, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires collapsed, to be reborn as the modern nation-states we know today. His book is the first comprehensive history of this process that involved the murder and forced migration of tens of millions of people. Drawing upon eyewitness accounts, contemporary journalism, and diplomatic records, Mr. Lieberman takes the reader from ethnic cleansing's earliest beginnings in Bulgaria, Greece, and Russia in the nineteenth century, through the rise of nationalism, both world wars, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Soviet empire, to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Along the way he examines the decisive roles of political leaders not only monarchs and dictators but also those who were democratically elected as well as ordinary people who often required very little encouragement to rob and brutalize their neighbors. Terrible Fate is a harrowing but essential record of our times.
"The term 'ethnic cleansing' is associated with Bosnia and the 1990s, but as Lieberman shows in this original work, the practice has helped shape the demographic face of modern Europe a result, he says, of the end of the multiethnic Russian, Ottoman, Hapsburg and, most recently, Communist empires and the simultaneous rise of national identity. Indeed, Lieberman makes a convincing argument that one of the major themes of the past 200 years in Europe is ethnic cleansing and the end of multiethnic cities and regions. The book ranges over cases of ethnic violence that are well known (e.g., Nazi Germany) as well as lesser-known episodes, such as the Greek flight from Turkish cities in the 1920s under threat of violence as Turkey became a modern nation-state. While Lieberman, a professor of history at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts, is to be commended for his knowledge of so many cases of ethnically driven violence, he is weaker at setting definitions: what distinguishes peacetime ethnic cleansing, pogroms, genocide and wartime flight? Still, this is a book that will have broad appeal among students of modern Europe and of genocide." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The first comprehensive history of ethnic cleansing in Europe and Western Asia from the early nineteenth century to the present. It explains how repeated waves of murderous assaults transformed imperial borderlands into nation-states, and offers a new interpretation of violence by ordinary people.