Unreconciled Differences: Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 1st October, 2010
Scott Taylor is a Canadian war correspondent who is best known for his reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. But recent years have also seen him in the Caucasus — a region he confesses he knew nothing about until he became involved. That steep learning curve forms the dynamic of his new book Unreconciled Differences: Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan (Esprit de Corps Books), which tries to make sense of the complex tensions and unresolved issues of that region within an admirably succinct 176 pages. Despite the clunky title, it is a smooth, fascinating read, mixing personal experience and impressions with potted history. A central thread is the question of what constitutes genocide, given the onging Armenian campaign (particularly in the Diaspora) to get Turkey to accept that what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was genocide. Given the sensibilities among the various states and individuals, Scott Taylor’s standpoint is bound to infuriate as many as it pleases. Interestingly, Azerbaijan comes out best in his snapshot view of the Caucasus states, which is probably why the Azerbaijan Embassy hosted the book’s London launch the other day. Academic experts on the region will wince at one or two of the author’s assertions and the style is unrelentedly journalistic. That makes it extremely readable, if not always entirely reliable.