Review by Marc A. Mamigonian in Journal of Armenian Studies,
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research
The Genocide exists almost as a backdrop in From Kessab to Watertown:
A Modern Saga by Hagop Sarkissian, based on the memoirs of his
father, Hovhannes H. Sarkissian. Hovhannes was fortunate enough
to have escaped the massacres and deportations by working in a
construction battalion on the Berlin-Baghdad railway. Supplementary
materials describe what Kessab endured during that period, however.
Since the Kessab area became part of Syria (until 1939, when it
was attached to Turkey), Sarkissian was eventually able to return
there, where he served as a teacher.
Sarkissian's passion in life seems to have been for teaching.
He taught in Tarsus (in Cilicia), Mersin, Alexandretta
(Iskenderun), Kessab and Beirut, in addition to receiving a
degree in theology and working for the American Bible Society
and the AGBU. A list of articles he wrote for various Armenian
publications is given in the book, and its recurrent
subjects--religion, history, education--seem to represent
the topics which most interested and motivated him.
From Kessab to Watertown is of further interest for the
additional material which supplements Sarkissian's life story.
Descriptions of the history of Kessab, the heroic legionnaires
of Kessab, accounts of the various schools where Sarkissian
studied and taught, and further family history round out a
book that touches on a great many subjects of interest to a
reader trying to understand the environment inhabited by
Armenians before and after the Genocide, the central event
which either disrupted, ended, or otherwise altered the lives
of virtually all Armenians.