Armenia by Sakina Dhilawala is in the juvenile “Cultures of the World” series. I am interested in the Armenian language, and when I saw this slight, 128-page book in the library’s withdrawal pile, I decided to take it home and read it. My typical behaviour with library withdrawals is to keep them on my bookshelf, unread, while more interesting titles come my way. Thus Armenia has sat on my bookshelf for a good year already. Since I do not want to start reading any long books in advance of the upcoming Canadian National Scrabble Championship (for the mere fact that I don’t want to have a gap of up to three days where I am not reading at all) I decided to take a look at the thin books in my collection and read those over the next few days.
This book is likely fine for a twelve-year-old doing research on Armenia, as the author goes into great detail about the religions and traditional foods found in the country. As expected I found the chapter on the Armenian language and its unique alphabet most interesting. There was a point of ambiguity in regards to the explanation for the downfall of the first Armenian republic:
“At the end of World War I, after the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia, an independent Republic of Armenia was declared in Russian Armenia in May 1918. However, external forces, especially pressure from Turks, led to the collapse of the republic in 1920.”
Five pages later, however, this explanation was given:
“The Russians were galvanized into taking action. In 1918, an independent Republic of Armenia was formed under the Dashnaks. For two years, the Dashnak administration struggled with the republic’s economic problems, while fending off attacks from the Turks and fighting for international recognition. In December 1920, the Dashnaks turned over the administration to the Communists, forming the Soviet Republic of Armenia.”
The first passage gives the impression that the first Republic of Armenia collapsed against Armenian will. The second passage suggests that the ruling Armenian administration voluntarily handed over the government to the Soviet Union.
Beautiful colour photos as well as the inclusion of an Armenian folk tale, “The Wise Weaver”, were enhancements to a descriptive history of the Armenian land and its people.