3716) Book Review: The Armenian Events Of Adana In 1909: Cemal Paşa And Beyond

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“The Armenian Events Of Adana In 1909: Cemal Paşa And Beyond”.

Book Review by Ergun Kırlıkovalı , May 27, 2019


This book represents a meticulous exploration of the ethno-religious, geo-strategic, political, social and economic dimensions of a tragic event in history, which is still little understood [1] 1and much misrepresented [2]. Güçlü studied the archives of five countries (the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States), mostly primary and secondary sources, before masterfully piecing together this massive historical puzzle. Armenian sources are notably missing, because, as Güçlü explains here and elsewhere, access to Armenian state, lay, and religious archives is still restricted to those who adhere to the official Armenian narrative [3]. Güçlü enlightens the readers by delivering a comprehensive before-during-after look at the region and the event. Readers will be enriched by reading this book to realize that biased and furious descriptions of Adana events of 1909 [4], that are popularly accepted without much fact-checking or critical thinking, may be unfair, inaccurate, even unethical.

The book reviewed:

“The Armenian Events Of Adana In 1909: Cemal Paşa And Beyond”

Yücel Güçlü, Lanham, Maryland, The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2018,

8 chapters, 3 maps, 19 photos, 905 chapter-end notes including more than 100 memoirs and correspondences, 35 pages of bibliography, 23 pages of index, total of 500 pages.

Language used is sophisticated, crisp, and pleasantly flowing.

The Author of the book:

A well-known historian, professor of Political History in Ankara University, Turkey, Yücel Güçlü is also an advisor in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His WorldCat Identity (world's largest network of library content and services) is as follows:

19 works in 116 publications in 5 languages and 1,834 library holdings.

The stated goal and intent of the book:

1) “…to give an accurate and reasonably complete narrative account of the Armenian events of 1909 and their aftermath in the province of Adana and the developments leading up to and following them” 2) “…to provide an interpretive framework that makes some sense out of this episode in Ottoman history.”

Introduction of the book:

Chapter 1 describes the geographical and economic importance of Adana province in the Ottoman Empire.
Chapter 2 provides a demographical overview of the region.
Chapter 3 covers major causes of the eruption of violence.
Chapter 4 defines the dimensions of the disorder.
Chapter 5 explores responsibility for the outrages.
Chapter 6 elucidates how order was reestablished in May-August 1090 timeframe.
Chapter 7 analyses Cemal Paşa’s work of humanitarian relief and reconstruction when he was provincial governor in Adana.
Chapter 8 reviews post-1911 Adana and Cemal Paşa’s governorship at Baghdad.

Analysis of the book:

While the scope and depth of a book review and the space it is given are limited, I will attempt to focus only on two major points and compare them with Güçlü’s coverage of same: What were the causes of the outbreak and who are responsible?

Prominent historian Esat Uras, after quoting extensively Droshak the organ of the Dashnaksutiun Revolutionary Committee[5], deduces the following [6]:
1) The Armenians were responsible.
2) They exploited the slackness of the (Ottoman) administration trusted in the strength of their organization and their weapons.
3) They provoked and tormented the Muslim populations.
4) The incidents are no way connected with the 31 March (Muslim) insurrection (in Istanbul).

Then Uras reinforces these deductions with equally extensive quotes from Nor Husank (New Trends), The British Consul in Mersin Major Doughty, M.N. Vendiand of Frankfurter Zeitung, the Ottoman Embassy in Paris, Le Temps, and more.

I was very curious to see if Güçlü’s findings agreed or disagreed with them Uras’s rather impenetrable assertions, or totally ignored them. I may not be an expert on Adana 1908 like Güçlü, Ercikson, McCarthy, Uras, Halacoglu, Cicek, Sarinay, and many others (a list too long to include here,) but I still consider myself a careful reader. I hereby report to the readers that Güçlü’s treatments of the two issues, in Chapters 3 and 5 respectively, were sound in methodology, sources, and analysis, and in agreement with Uras’s findings.

One tiny criticism, if I may, lies with stringing sources along, in an effort to create a chronologically accurate chain of events, an effort I truly respect and admire, but without commenting on the health of, at least, some of those references. As students of history will appreciate, most Western and Armenian references carry an overdose of engrained prejudice against Muslims in general and Turks in particular. Cases in point: Chapter 4, Notes 1-6, 8-13, 17-41, 54-71, 73-81, 94-101, 109-120, 123-129, 135-138 are all non-Turkish sources. How does it matter? See, for example, the section titled “The (Ottoman) Governments First Steps To Restore Order” (p.201) which predominantly relies on US and British records (notes 135-138.) I would have preferred to see at least one or two Ottoman documents there, agreeing or disagreeing with the Western sources.


Güçlü’s monumental study on Adana events of 1909, clearly the product of what must be a daunting task of scouring the national archives of at least five countries, fills a serious vacuum in Adana 1909 scholarship which, up to now, lacked an authoritative work. Güçlü’s work also poses a formidable challenge to the “official Armenian narrative” [7] and those academic polemicists [8] who blindly subscribe to Armenian representations. This footnote-heavy, insightful, and groundbreaking book finally clears the lingering doubts about the Adana events, albeit some 110 years after they occurred. It also dispels the deceptions and propaganda, so prevalent throughout the “genocide industry”, cultivated by ethocidal [9] approaches of some scholars who are too busy to do proper research, or at least, consider the final verdict by Europe’s highest court, dated 15 October, 2015, on the subject of genocide [10]. I highly recommend Prof Yücel Güçlü’s The Armenian Events of Adana in 1909: Cemal Pasa and Beyond for scholars, researchers, lecturers, teachers, opinion leaders, and other truth-seekers who would genuinely like to reset their mental and emotional engagements with the “Turkish-Armenian conflict” back to the factory settings of truth, honesty, and fairness.



[1] Bedross Der Matossian, From Bloodless Revolution to Bloody Counterrevolution: The Adana Massacres of 1909, Faculty Publications, Department of History, 124, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, 2011

[2] Hrachik Simonyan, The Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia, April 1909, translated by Melissa Brown and Alexander Arzoumanian, London, Gomidas Institute, London, 2012.

[3] Yücel Güçlü, Historical Archives and the Historians' Commission to Investigate the Armenian Events of 1915, UPA, 2015, sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC

[4] Wikipedia, Adana massacre of 1909, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adana_massacre_of_1909

[5] Droshak, No. 7, 1909, Leo, op. cit., pp 59-61.

[6] Esat uras, The Armenians in History and the Armenian Question, Documentary Publications, Istanbul, Turkey, 1988, pp 823-828.

[7] Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, Transaction Publishers, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 2007

[8] TallArmenianTale.com, The Dishonesty of Genocide Scholars, http://www.tallarmeniantale.com/GenocideScholars.htm and also https://www.genocidescholars.org/

[9] Ethocide (not to be confused with ethnocide) :

A new term coined from the words "ethics" and "cide" by Ergun Kirlikovali, a Turkish-American researcher in history, as his humble gift to the English language on May 7, 2003, as a long-needed antonym for the term "genocide" created by Lemkin in 1943. The need for an antonym for the term genocide arose from lopsided coverage and misrepresentation of the Turkish-Armenian conflict in media, academia and politics. Its short definition is: systematic extermination of ethics via malicious mass deception for political gain. Ethocide is a crime of conscience, committed by biased and bigoted individuals who persistently promote a racist and dishonest interpretation of history and who are intolerant of dissent, often dismissing it as “genocide denial.” Called "ethociders", such people will readily resort to censorship and intimidation of dissenters. Turkish counterpart of the term ethocide is also coined simultaneously: ahlakkirim.

[10] Perinçek v. Switzerland, The Grand Chamber of the European Cort of Human Rights delivered its final judgment on October 15, 2015. By a majority, judges held that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, perpetrated by Switzerland. By its criminal conviction of a Turkish politician (Perinçek) for publicly expressing his views on Swiss soil, regarding the "Turkish-Armenian Conflict," Switzerland breached Dr. Perinçek's right to free speech. Dr. Perinçek stated that the Tereset (Temporary Resettlement) policy concerning the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and the events that followed had not amounted to genocide. The ruling also stated that genocide was an opinion not a court verdict, as such, it can be rejected as a form of free speech. Moreover, genocide cannot be compared to Holocaust because while the latter is backed by a verdict of a competent court, i.e. Nuremberg, the former lacks such legal ruling. All this is nothing less than a spectacular legal victory for contra-genocide view and the truth.



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