Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize

2016 Citation Recipient

Ronald Grigor Suny

“They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide

Established in 1983, the Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, sponsored by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) and the Stanford University Center for Russian and East European Studies, is awarded annually for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences published in English in the United States in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Ronald Grigor Suny
Title: “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton University Press)

Ronald Suny’s book on the Armenian genocide is a masterwork by a leading scholar in the field of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies. It provides a comprehensive overview and deep analysis of an historical event that stands out not only for its senseless brutality, but also for its longstanding denial. In contrast to other historical works that have focused on documenting the tragedy, Suny’s book sets out to explain the causes of the Armenian genocide. Suny argues that the Armenians were victims of the rise of exclusive ethnic nationalism in what was once the Ottoman Empire. At the time of its collapse, triggered by the start of the First World War, the Young Turks, who fought to create a Turkish nation state on the ruins of the empire, believed the Armenians to be a dangerous fifth column connected to Russia and sympathetic to the plans of foreign powers. Turkish nationalism took shape, in part, through ethnic cleansing of the Armenian other. Suny develops this argument in a magisterial fashion, drawing on a wealth of new archival material. It combines the best of history and the social sciences. It will likely be the single best book on the Armenian genocide and its causes for many years to come.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Kunichika and Douglas Rogers