By Their Deeds Ye Shall Know Them

Book Review by Lucine Kasbarian, NJ USA, 06 April 2024

Armenian Greats: Known and Unknown
By Jirair Tutunjian
Independently published; April 2024

Mother Teresa, Gregory Peck, Vivien Leigh, Henri Troyat and Giorgio Armani possess/ed ethnic Armenian roots. What of so many other Armenians—unknown or obscure—who have accomplished fascinating things?

Armenian Greats: Known and Unknown answers that question. This 110-page book contains 40 enticing tales about the lives and accomplishments of Armenians from the four corners of the globe, many of whom the majority of Armenians know nothing about.

Produced by journalist Jirair Tutunjian, this collection of profiles, anecdotal tales and encounters with Armenians introduces us to individuals who have distinguished themselves in a wide variety of vocations.  Just some of the luminaries we meet include Crusader Queen Melisende and her sisters; Russia’s greatest general, Alexander Suvorov; character actor Vladek Sheybal; revolutionizing petroleum engineer Aramais Arutunoff; Middle Eastern singer Samira Tawfiq; rocket innovator Manoug Manougian; and Brazilian entrepreneur Comendador Levy Gasparyan.

In producing this book, Tutunjian, the English language editor of Keghart, firmly establishes the niche he has carved out for himself.  He is the originator of recurring Keghart columns such as “Did You Know?” containing trivia about Armenia and Armenians. In Armenian Greats, Tutunjian applies a knack for getting to the bottom of his research to discover traces of Armenian activity—wherever such individuals may have left their mark (business, government, the performing arts); the extent of their ingenuity, talent and persistence (as inventors, industrialists, physicians, scientists); and the historical relevance of their deeds (as royalty, diplomats, clerics, military personnel). The breadth and scope of documented accomplishments among Armenians in far-flung areas of the world is staggering.  Of these 40 tales, nine of them feature Armenians of Jerusalem where Tutunjian was born and raised.

By producing Armenian Greats, Tutunjian does a service to history by documenting the achievements of pioneering Armenians. Some individuals possessed one Armenian parent, while others were full-blooded. Some identified as Armenians, whereas others did not for a variety of reasons. Some brought a measure of credit to the Armenian nation while others were denied that right. But in each case, these persons displayed an innate ability to distinguish themselves in their chosen careers.

Jirair Tutunjian

It is no secret that the achievements of Armenians are often underplayed in history books. In the Foreword of this volume, journalist David Boyajian observes: “When Tutunjian shows us the role of an Armenian in great things, we can only be grateful that what chroniclers chose to omit or overlook, he chooses to expose.”

Since the invasion and ethnic-cleansing of Artsakh, a palpable state of unease about Armenia’s future as a viable state has gripped the global Armenian nation. Tutunjian’s offering is a brace and a buttress that reminds Armenians of their moxie and mettle. It is a symbol and reminder that ingenuity is an inherent Armenian trait. This book will remind Armenians that laudable individual efforts can be harnessed into a collective potential to reach common national and cherished goals.

Tutunjian has spent decades as a journalist, book author and editor. At age 24, Tutunjian became the youngest Canadian magazine editor on record. During his tenure as editor for six consumer and trade magazines, he won many international and local awards and reported from 110 countries around the world. Since 2009, Tutunjian has been the English-language Editor of Keghart.

To order a copy of Armenian Greats ($20 CAN, not including postage from Canada), contact Mr. Tutunjian at: [email protected]

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  1. As a person with half Armenian ancestry, I always read Jirair Tutunjian’s columns with avid interest because I know I can learn something new and useful from them. I can hardly wait to read this book of his. Thanks to Lucine Kasbarian, (another Armenian who has taught me much about Armenian culture and matters) for her review.

  2. Mr. Tutunjian always fascinates with his knowledge of Armenians and their deeds.
    Good review.
    Will read the book.

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