Odessa was the Russian Empire’s gateway to the Middle East, its foremost commercial port, and home to one of the most progressive and successful Jewish communities in all of Europe. When Mark Twain visited, he found its vibrant mix of nationalities, religions, and social classes to be America in miniature. But in the twentieth century, the city of creative strivers started down a long road toward ruin. Pogroms devastated the Jewish community. The Russian civil war brought refugees and new rulers, the Bolsheviks. During the Second World War, the occupation government of Nazi-allied Romania killed tens of thousands of Jews in one of the untold episodes of the Holocaust. Charles King will discuss his recent book Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams and in particular the book's new archival research on the origins of the city's Holocaust experience.
Charles King is Professor of International Affairs and Government at Georgetown University. He lectures widely on international affairs, social violence, and ethnic politics, and has worked with major broadcast media such as CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, the History Channel, and MTV. He previously served as chairman of the faculty of Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is the author of five books, including Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams, which received the National Jewish Book Award; The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus, which was named "History Book of the Year" by the Moscow Times; and The Black Sea: A History. King’s articles and commentary have appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Times Literary Supplement, as well as in leading academic journals. He studied history and philosophy at the University of Arkansas and later earned master’s and doctoral degrees at Oxford University, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. Before coming to Georgetown, he was a junior research fellow at New College, Oxford, and a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. His new book, about a legendary grand hotel and the experience of exile in 1930s Istanbul, will be published next year.
Co-sponsored by Slavic Languages and Literatures and Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies