Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad

Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad: Humanitarianism in Talas, Turkey 1908-1923 is the personal history of a dedicated group of American and Canadian missionaries and relief workers who saved thousands of Armenian, Greek and Turkish orphans from starvation, disease and harm in the Talas region during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. From the initial jubilance of the 1908 Young Turk revolution, through the period of increased state repression, to the violence and destruction of world war and genocide, the courage and kindness of these remarkable humanitarians shine through as a beacon of light and hope.

13 Humanitarian Workers, Talas, Turkey in the Ottoman Empire, circa 1920.

Some of the Talas team c1920. Amerikan Bord Heyeti (American Board), Istanbul, “Personnel records for Susan W. Orvis,” American Research Institute in Turkey, Istanbul Center Library, online in Digital Library for International Research Archive, Item #15359.

Join Susan Wealthy Orvis, Stella Loughridge, Henry Wingate and their colleagues on the Talas team as they demonstrate their fortitude, perseverance, wit and seemingly endless grace in a world that was controlled by power-hungry men who led the empire into an era of madness that included 2 coups d’état, 4 regional wars, 3 genocides, 1 world war and 1 war of independence—all within the span of 14 years. The first massive humanitarian aid effort, ultimately known as Near East Relief, is an outstanding example of international cooperation and the best of humanity.

Foreword by Kamo Mayilyan

Cover and Table of Contents (pdf)

Enthusiastic Endorsements:

The title says it all—what an incredible story of resilience, courage and dedication of a small band of people trying to create islands of humanity in a region of constant armed conflict, tension and extremism. A must read for all those who want to understand what it takes to make a difference in a time of chaos and turmoil.
George Weber, secretary-general emeritus of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (i.e. Intern Fed)

A remarkably detailed and vivid account of events leading up to the Armenian Genocide, and the heroic efforts of foreign missionaries to confront unbelievably hellish conditions. Thoroughly and exhaustively researched, the author reveals scenes which even the most seasoned reader of this period will find revealing.
Atom Egoyan, filmmaker

A captivating and a unique book about a dark and critical period of change and conflict which has not been sufficiently understood or acknowledged. Meticulously researched and faithfully narrated accounts of Christian aid workers’ struggle depict one of the earliest and heart wrenching humanitarian efforts of the 20th century of a global scale. Extremely relevant for our times when religious conflicts, humanitarian crises and forced migrations are on the rise.
Kumru Bilici, journalist, and executive at Voices in Dialogue

A priceless, finely-detailed juxtaposition of political and mission history in the midst of horrific tragedy. This study is a significant contribution to understanding Turkish political and religious life today.
Bishop Terry Brown, Canadian mission historian and archivist

An engaging first-hand account that interweaves the personal and historical record of the tumultuous years of revolution, war and genocide in the Talas region of Ottoman Turkey. The humanitarian aid mission and its American and Canadian staff were key foreign witnesses to the horrific mass deportations and massacres of Armenians and Greeks, and provided heroic assistance to the countless refugees and orphans.
Alan Whitehorn, professor emeritus, Royal Military College of Canada, and editor of The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide