A masterful account of the assassins who hunted down the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide
In 1921, a tightly knit band of killers set out to avenge the deaths of almost one million victims of the Armenian Genocide. They were a humble bunch: an accountant, a life insurance salesman, a newspaper editor, an engineering student, and a diplomat. Together they formed one of the most effective assassination squads in history. They named their operation Nemesis, after the Greek goddess of retribution. The assassins were survivors, men defined by the massive tragedy that had devastated their people. With operatives on three continents, the Nemesis team killed six major Turkish leaders in Berlin, Constantinople, Tiflis, and Rome, only to disband and suddenly disappear. The story of this secret operation has never been fully told, until now.
Eric Bogosian goes beyond simply telling the story of this cadre of Armenian assassins by setting the killings in the context of Ottoman and Armenian history, as well as showing in vivid color the era's history, rife with political fighting and massacres. Casting fresh light on one of the great crimes of the twentieth century and one of history's most remarkable acts of vengeance, Bogosian draws upon years of research and newly uncovered evidence. Operation Nemesis is the result--both a riveting read and a profound examination of evil, revenge, and the costs of violence.
Fans of Bogosian's one-man shows (Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead) will recognize his provocative sensibility in this book's very first paragraph, in which he recalls being told by his grandfather, "If you ever meet a Turk, kill him." Bogosian doesn't linger on this advice, given to him when he was four; he presents it as an alarming but not unusual consequence of the 1915 Armenian genocide, in which many members of his family were murdered. From there, Bogosian drops the memoir and launches into an engrossing, heavily-researched account of Operation Nemesis, the code name for an international campaign, carried out by Armenian survivors, to assassinate the various Turkish heads of state who orchestrated the genocide. The details read like a Hollywood epic, but Bogosian plays it straight, letting the facts tell the story without sensationalizing or romanticizing. Though the author is well known as a playwright, actor, and novelist (Perforated Heart), this is his first work of nonfiction, and the book's scope is ambitious: it also covers centuries of Armenian history and the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire. For those familiar with this terrain, Bogosian has uncovered a little-known aspect of it in fascinating detail. For everyone else, this is a highly readable introduction.