A Family of Shadows: A Century of Murder, Memory, and the Armenian American Dream

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As a world war rages in Europe in 1915, Ottoman authorities commence on the eastern frontier of their empire, the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians - the first genocide of the 20th century. A teenage boy named Kaspar Hovannisian is one among a generation of Armenians who survives the murder of their families and ancestral homeland, and escape to new destinies in the United States. Kaspar follows the American Dream to the San Joaquin Valley of California, where he amasses an agricultural and real estate empire. But memories of his homeland burn strong - a legacy of love, sorrow, and faith in salvation. Kaspar's son Richard leaves the family farm determined to protect the history of a lost nation against the forces of time and denial. He helps pioneer the field of Armenian Studies in the United States and becomes a world authority on genocide. Kaspar's grandson Raffi is himself haunted by memory, but he is also inspired in 1989 to leave his law firm in Los Angeles and to stage the unprecedented act of repatriation to Soviet Armenia, where he plays a historic role in a difficult, but independent, new republic. Now, in a moving book that is part investigative memoir and part history of the Armernian diaspora, Garin Hovannisian tells his family's story - a tale of tragedy, memory, and redemption which illuminates the long shadows that history casts on the lives of men.