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The Gentle American

George Horton’s Odyssey and His True Account of the Smyrna Catastrophe


George Horton was the American consul in Smyrna, Turkey when Turkish Nationalists sacked and burned it in September 1922. Horton came to Christ late in life, but took his teachings seriously and to great effect. For more than a decade, he intervened repeatedly to help Muslim, Jewish, and Christian refugees, saving countless lives. When the Department of State covered up mass murder in a bid to secure oil, Horton battled fake news, government disinformation, and bureaucratic skullduggery to prevent the United States from absolving Turkish leaders of genocide, and to ensure aid reached the millions of refugees that only Greece and no other country would accept. The biography reveals Horton’s controversial and misunderstood history of these events was accurate, and that it helps explain the catastrophic violence against civilians in WWII and current radicalism in the Middle East.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4449-1
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Publication Status: Forthcoming
Publication Date: Jul 31,2022
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 7 x 10
Page Count: 555
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4449-1
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George Horton was the American consul in Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkey when it was sacked and burned by Mustapha Kemal’s Nationalist forces in September 1922. He is best known for his book on that topic, The Blight of Asia, which is almost universally misunderstood, even by those who admire him. But there is much more to his story than that. When he began his diplomatic tours in the Ottoman Empire, he was an internationally respected poet, author, humorist, and ethnographer. During more than a decade of service on the frontlines of war and genocide, he intervened repeatedly to assist Muslim, Jewish, and Christian refugees. He brought U.S. philanthropy to Greece that saved countless lives. He predicted the catastrophe in Smyrna, and afterward, decried the Department of State’s cover-up. Two American officials, Admiral Mark Bristol, the U.S. representative in Constantinople, and Allen Dulles, chief of the Department of State’s Near East division, promoted disinformation that whitewashed genocide, suppressed Horton’s reporting and tried to discredit him.

Horton fought back, playing a key role in the U.S. Senate’s vote against the Lausanne treaties, ensuring America did not join European nations in legally absolving Turkish leaders of responsibility for genocide. Horton has been a controversial and misunderstood figure for over 100 years, but recent scholarship substantiates his accuracy and policy prescriptions. He argued a more diverse and progressive Near East was possible, and after that missed opportunity, that it would be a mistake to reward atrocity. He was right. Turkey’s ability to profit from national homogenization by genocide stoked a German desire to emulate their success, amplifying the horrors of WWII. We still have much to learn from Horton’s life, as governments wrestle with how to protect American interests and simultaneously thwart genocide.

George Horton was the American consul in Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkey when it was sacked and burned by Mustapha Kemal’s Nationalist forces in September 1922. He is best known for his book on that topic, The Blight of Asia, which is almost universally misunderstood, even by those who admire him. But there is much more to his story than that. When he began his diplomatic tours in the Ottoman Empire, he was an internationally respected poet, author, humorist, and ethnographer. During more than a decade of service on the frontlines of war and genocide, he intervened repeatedly to assist Muslim, Jewish, and Christian refugees. He brought U.S. philanthropy to Greece that saved countless lives. He predicted the catastrophe in Smyrna, and afterward, decried the Department of State’s cover-up. Two American officials, Admiral Mark Bristol, the U.S. representative in Constantinople, and Allen Dulles, chief of the Department of State’s Near East division, promoted disinformation that whitewashed genocide, suppressed Horton’s reporting and tried to discredit him.

Horton fought back, playing a key role in the U.S. Senate’s vote against the Lausanne treaties, ensuring America did not join European nations in legally absolving Turkish leaders of responsibility for genocide. Horton has been a controversial and misunderstood figure for over 100 years, but recent scholarship substantiates his accuracy and policy prescriptions. He argued a more diverse and progressive Near East was possible, and after that missed opportunity, that it would be a mistake to reward atrocity. He was right. Turkey’s ability to profit from national homogenization by genocide stoked a German desire to emulate their success, amplifying the horrors of WWII. We still have much to learn from Horton’s life, as governments wrestle with how to protect American interests and simultaneously thwart genocide.

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ContributorBiography

Ismini Lamb

Ismini Lamb is the Director of the Modern Greek Studies Program at Georgetown University, where she has taught Greek language, history, and culture for over 30 years. For the past nine years, she has labored as the authorized biographer of George Horton, speaking frequently on his historic legacy. She is a C.S. Lewis fellow, Doyle Faculty Fellow, and member of many Greek-American civic organizations.

Christopher Lamb

Christopher Lamb is a retired Foreign Service Officer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, study director for the Project on National Security Reform, and former director of the Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University. He has numerous publications. His recent book, The Mayaguez Crisis, Mission Command and Civil-Military Relations won the Edwin Simmons–Henry I. Shaw Award for superior historical scholarship.