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.