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Imagine you've just been rendered a refugee in the country where you were born--the country that has been the home of your ancestors for more than 2,500 years. You walk hundreds of miles with only what you can carry, until you run out of land. The brutal enemy that's following you is raping, mutilating, shooting, burning, and beheading your friends and neighbors. At the water's edge, you see before you 22 warships flying the flags of the Western democracies. With the city burning behind you and the enemy shooting at you from both sides, you're faced with only one option. You jump into the water and swim for your life. You're relieved to reach the Allied warships anchored in the harbor. But something is wrong! The sailors won't let you come aboard. Instead they use hoses and hot water to prevent you from climbing onboard. You look back toward the quay, but you're too exhausted to swim to shore. Suddenly you realize you're out of options. Is this a bad dream? Would civilized nations of the world order their sailors to stand down and watch you drown? It's finally time to learn the real story of the Peacemakers!
What did you love best about Blessed Are the Peacemakers??
The authors have taken the historical records and used them to create a story and timeline that reads like a fictional novel. The only difference is that it is the true story. It's a little upsetting to think that our leaders were part of the problem instead of the solution, but at least the heroes are our American military and American relief workers. I was shocked when I found that much of the dialogue was actually statements of the real people as quoted in newspapers of the day. It is more worrisome that the terrorism of today is identical to what occurred 100 years ago.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Clearly, Asa Jennings is the hero of the 20th century. A YMCA worker trying his best to comfort the 500,000 Greek and Armenian refugees at his station, enter him into a game of liar's poker where his bold bluff results in his appointment as an Admiral in the Greek navy, in command of dozens of ships. The result is the rescue of millions of Greek and Armenian refugees from imminent death at the hands of the Turkish military.
What does Samson Soledad bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
His writing has a precision. He manages to create vivid mental pictures so that you feel you are there as it happens. At times, it was so distressing that I had to put the book down.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The moment for me was as Smyrna is completely in flames with 500,000 helpless refugees standing on a pier with fire to their backs, Turkish soldiers on either sides shooting into the crowd and the harbor in front if you thought you would swim to safety. Other than the Allied warships refusing to save these women and children, on board a British warship, the captain ordered his band to play a lively tune, because the screams of people being burned alive was distracting as they could be heard at his officers' dinner table. Really?
Any additional comments?
Once again, we find that the only people that seem to embrace the nuance of liberty, freedom and democracy are ordinary people. The leaders think these things are merely slogans to get them elected.
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