THE HUNDRED-YEAR WALK

An Armenian Odyssey

Dawn Anahid MacKeen

An epic tale of one man’s courage in the face of genocide and his granddaughter’s quest to tell his story

In the heart of the Ottoman Empire as World War I rages, Stepan Miskjian’s world becomes undone. He is separated from his family as they are swept up in the government’s mass deportation of Armenians into internment camps. Gradually realizing the unthinkable—that they are all being driven to their deaths—he fights, through starvation and thirst, not to lose hope. Just before killing squads slaughter his caravan during a forced desert march, Stepan manages to escape, making a perilous six-day trek to the Euphrates River carrying nothing more than two cups of water and one gold coin.

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An epic tale of one man’s courage in the face of genocide and his granddaughter’s quest to tell his story

In the heart of the Ottoman Empire as World War I rages, Stepan Miskjian’s world becomes undone. He is separated from his family as they are swept up in the government’s mass deportation of Armenians into internment camps. Gradually realizing the unthinkable—that they are all being driven to their deaths—he fights, through starvation and thirst, not to lose hope. Just before killing squads slaughter his caravan during a forced desert march, Stepan manages to escape, making a perilous six-day trek to the Euphrates River carrying nothing more than two cups of water and one gold coin. In his desperate bid for survival, Stepan dons disguises, outmaneuvers gendarmes, and, when he least expects it, encounters the miraculous kindness of strangers.

The Hundred-Year Walk alternates between Stepan’s saga and another journey that takes place a century later, after his family discovers his long-lost journals. Reading this rare firsthand account, his granddaughter Dawn MacKeen finds herself first drawn into the colorful bazaars before the war and then into the horrors Stepan later endured. Inspired to retrace his steps, she sets out alone to Turkey and Syria, shadowing her resourceful, resilient grandfather across a landscape still rife with tension. With his journals guiding her, she grows ever closer to the man she barely knew as a child. Their shared story is a testament to family, to home, and to the power of the human spirit to transcend the barriers of religion, ethnicity, and even time itself.

 

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  • Houghton Mifflin
  • Hardcover
  • January 2016
  • 352 Pages
  • 9780618982660

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$24.00

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About Dawn Anahid MacKeen

Dawn Anahid MacKeen is an award-winning investigative journalist who spent nearly a decade on her grandfather’s story. Previously she was a staff writer at Salon, Newsday, and Smart Money. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Elle, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California.

Praise

This previously untold story of survival and personal fortitude is on par with Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. Further, this is a tale of tracing your family roots and learning about who you are. It will have broad appeal for a wide range of readers.Library Journal, Starred Review

A freelance journalist debuts with an account of her long effort to retrace the journey of her grandfather, who improbably survived the vast massacre of Armenians during World War I. Stepan Miskjian’s survival—a story of astonishing determination, luck, and horror—is beyond improbable. At many moments in this swift narrative, readers will be certain he will die—from the elements, starvation, thirst, exposure, or execution. But he doesn’t. MacKeen was fortunate to discover the original accounts (and notes) her grandfather had made; she intercuts her rewriting of those events with her own journey to the region. As the text moves along, readers will find themselves drawn into the whirlpool of events, soon forgetting the author’s presence.—Kirkus Reviews

Part family heirloom, part history lesson, The Hundred-Year Walk is an emotionally poignant work, powerfully imagined and expertly crafted. The considerable archival scaffolding remains invisible as MacKeen carries her readers on an emotional journey full of heartache and hope.”—Aline Ohanesian, author of Orhan’s Inheritance

In her remarkable book, The Hundred-Year Walk, Dawn MacKeen has taken the Armenian genocide and shown us its terrifying flesh, blood, bone, and sinew. Her vehicle is her grandfather’s forced deportation, and she uses it to take the reader on a horrific ride into the heart of one of history’s darkest moments.”—S. C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon