cover of Grit and Grace

Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad 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.

Nonfiction / History

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


What others are saying about Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad

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

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 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

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

Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad: Humanitarianism in Talas, Turkey, 1908–1923. Reviewed by Ashley Kalagian Blunt in The Newtown Review of Books, Nonfiction, 23 April 2019.

Presentation about Some Remarkable Humanitarians in the Ottoman Empire by Kamo Mayilyan:

Grit and Grace in a World Gone Mad: Humanitarianism in Talas, Turkey, 1908–1923. Reviewed by Nancy F. Johnson in Herizons, Winter 2019. (jpg)

Book Reviews

Talas team of 13

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.


Presentation in Montreal 2018
  • Upcoming events: Armenia, April 2020 (postponed due to Covid-19)
  • Private Book Club, Jerseyville, ON, August 14, 2019
  • Probus Club, Dundas, ON, July 29, 2019
  • AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School, Canoga Park, CA, May 7, 2019
  • Abril Books, Glendale, CA, May 7, 2019
  • Hamazkayin, Armenian Educational & Cultural Society, Cambridge, ON, April 26, 2019
  • Grand Valley Group of Engineers, Cambridge, ON, March 15, 2019
  • AGBU, Centre Alex Manoogian, Ville St-Laurent, QC, December 5, 2018
  • AGBU, Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre, Toronto, ON, November 28, 2018
If you would like to schedule a presentation for your group or order an autographed copy, please contact the author.