The Great Fire: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century's First Genocide  -     By: Lou Ureneck
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The Great Fire: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century's First Genocide

Ecco / 2015 / Hardcover

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Product Description

The harrowing story of a Methodist minister and a principled American naval officer who helped to rescue more than 250,000 refugees from Smyrna during Ataturk's genocide of Armenian and Greek Christians. This amazing humanitarian effort is seen through eyewitness accounts and survivor narratives. 320 pages, hardcover. Ecco.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 496
Vendor: Ecco
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 0062259881
ISBN-13: 9780062259882

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Publisher's Description

The harrowing story of a Methodist Minister and a principled American naval officer who helped rescue more than 250,000 refugees during the genocide of Armenian and Greek Christians—a tale of bravery, morality, and politics, published to coincide with the genocide’s centennial.

The year was 1922: World War I had just come to a close, the Ottoman Empire was in decline, and Asa Jennings, a YMCA worker from upstate New York, had just arrived in the quiet coastal city of Smyrna to teach sports to boys. Several hundred miles to the east in Turkey’s interior, tensions between Greeks and Turks had boiled over into deadly violence. Mustapha Kemal, now known as Ataturk, and his Muslim army soon advanced into Smyrna, a Christian city, where a half a million terrified Greek and Armenian refugees had fled in a desperate attempt to escape his troops. Turkish soldiers proceeded to burn the city and rape and kill countless Christian refugees. Unwilling to leave with the other American civilians and determined to get Armenians and Greeks out of the doomed city, Jennings worked tirelessly to feed and transport the thousands of people gathered at the city’s Quay.

With the help of the brilliant naval officer and Kentucky gentleman Halsey Powell, and a handful of others, Jennings commandeered a fleet of unoccupied Greek ships and was able to evacuate a quarter million innocent people—an amazing humanitarian act that has been lost to history, until now. Before the horrible events in Turkey were complete, Jennings had helped rescue a million people.

By turns harrowing and inspiring, The Great Fire uses eyewitness accounts, documents, and survivor narratives to bring this episode—extraordinary for its brutality as well as its heroism—to life. 

Author Bio

Lou Ureneck, a former Nieman fellow and editor-in-residence at Harvard University, is a professor of journalism at Boston University. Ureneck is the author of Backcast, which won the National Outdoor Book Award for literary merit, and Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine.

Editorial Reviews

“Ureneck’s narrative is intense and vivid.”
“The Great Fire reads like a fast-paced thriller replete with vivid profiles of heroes, villains and ordinary people caught up in ethnic and religious violence.”
“This is a comprehensive yet intimate work of scholarship, reminding readers of a horrific moment in modern history now largely forgotten.”
“The Great Fire reads like a fast-paced thriller replete with vivid profiles of heroes, villains and ordinary people caught up in ethnic and religious violence.”
“The Great Fire reads like a fast-paced thriller replete with vivid profiles of heroes, villains and ordinary people caught up in ethnic and religious violence.”
“[The Great Fire] is highly readable and paints a portrait of a pivotal period in world history.”
Praise for Backcast:“This book is a rarity: humble in its beauty, elegant in its reflection.”

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