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Greek War Of Independence, The Paperback – Nov 1 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (Nov. 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590206916
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590206911
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #487,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I knew next to nothing about the Greek war to separate itself from the Turks before reading this book. Only the highlights were in my mind, so I was very pleased to learn much more about this most interesting modern struggle. The author does his best in telling a very confused tale, although his habit of occasionally skipping back and forth, and some repetition, bothered me a bit. He also would give a quotation in its original language, and then fail to tell the reader what it said in translation! Unfortunatley, English is my only language, so I took umbrage at this lapse. The work itself moves fairly smoothly, introducing a vast number of people, and occasionally I got lost in all of the unfamiliar names and places, but that's my fault, and not the author's. All in all, this is a book that is well worth reading if you are interested in learning about its subject, as I was.
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Format: Hardcover
Most amateurs (I would consider myself one) go into a history book with a slight apprehension - because you don't know what pre-assumed knowledge is there, or if you'll be lost at the end of the first chapter. Rest assured - not so here. Although this book is quite difficult to find, I received mine from my grandfather, who purchased it at an Athens bookshop -- his place of residence.
The citings are numerous but appropriate and yet not overwhelming, and the level of reading is not unbearably high. I, in all of my ignorance, had no idea what century the Greek Revolution was in before this work, and still found everything readable and comprehensible. The major players are emphasized, and gladly Brewer stays away from the unnecessary tangents that plague a lot of other writers. His narrative is focused and precise, and not disguised in the detail that we as readers don't want to know.
I found this highly enjoyable - and one gets a true sense of what a mangled and disorganized "revolution" Greece really had, and how close the campaign was to defeat on numerous occasions. As in all history, the fate of men hangs by but a thread, and such a piece could be the difference between life, death, left, right, up, down, or nothing at all. It remains true here.
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Format: Hardcover
In a possibly apocryphal but highly instructive story a traveler asks a nineteenth-century Balkan peasant if he considers himself mostly Bulgarian or mostly Greek. The peasant answers that he has no idea what the traveler is talking about and goes on to say he is Christian, by which he means he is not a Turk. (He had no clue about being of either nationality.)
Most people in the Balkans at that time had no sense of belonging to a nation but they knew they were part of a non-Christian empire and that they were an oppressed people. Little wonder, since the notion of nation-state with a common language, religion, ethnicity, was still largely a Western idea of which the Greeks and their neighbors had little practical sense. For most of their long histories empire and foreign domination was the political and economic reality. This means that any account of the beginnings of modern Greece has to deal pretty heavily, perhaps insistently, on the whole issue of "nation building." David Brewer does an admirable job of weaving this theme into his account of the Greek war of independence.
The situation at the time was a general disaster of decline and decadence in the Ottoman Empire, warlords and ignorant peasants in the homeland, bandits in the mountain passes, and wealthy Greeks who wanted the Turks out so they themselves could take over as oppressors of the have-nots.
Brewer begins with a brief description of the church and its hierarchy as unifying elements in the struggle against the oppressors, and then moves on to the more interesting (because less well-known) intellectual underpinnings of the war.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Nation building in Modern Greece Jan. 1 2002
By Alekos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In a possibly apocryphal but highly instructive story a traveler asks a nineteenth-century Balkan peasant if he considers himself mostly Bulgarian or mostly Greek. The peasant answers that he has no idea what the traveler is talking about and goes on to say he is Christian, by which he means he is not a Turk. (He had no clue about being of either nationality.)
Most people in the Balkans at that time had no sense of belonging to a nation but they knew they were part of a non-Christian empire and that they were an oppressed people. Little wonder, since the notion of nation-state with a common language, religion, ethnicity, was still largely a Western idea of which the Greeks and their neighbors had little practical sense. For most of their long histories empire and foreign domination was the political and economic reality. This means that any account of the beginnings of modern Greece has to deal pretty heavily, perhaps insistently, on the whole issue of "nation building." David Brewer does an admirable job of weaving this theme into his account of the Greek war of independence.
The situation at the time was a general disaster of decline and decadence in the Ottoman Empire, warlords and ignorant peasants in the homeland, bandits in the mountain passes, and wealthy Greeks who wanted the Turks out so they themselves could take over as oppressors of the have-nots.
Brewer begins with a brief description of the church and its hierarchy as unifying elements in the struggle against the oppressors, and then moves on to the more interesting (because less well-known) intellectual underpinnings of the war. The important figures here are the wonderful Adamantios Korais (educated in France, invented the Modern Greek language almost single-handedly, believed the outbreak of hostilities should be postponed at least a generation) - and Rhigas Phaeros (poet-patriot cruelly executed after betrayal by his own).
The author examines the roles played in the war by a variety of people, including Ali Pasha of Jannina, the savagely cruel but culturally refined Albanian despot who ruled Epirus with an iron fist and had a thousand concubines and fifty young boys. He traces out the problems involved in organizing the secret society known as the Philiki Eteria and in getting new recruits who could be trusted. Not everyone could be.
Greece was liberated only gradually, the Peloponnese being the area of earliest conflict and first liberation. The country did not attain its present borders until well into the twentieth century. Theodore Kolokotronis is the major military figure of the war, or at least the most memorable. But once he had power in his grasp he was unwilling to yield it to the civil authorities, as were most of the other military leaders. In fact Greece underwent a dreadful civil war even before it even became a country. The still fighting new nation had a series of constituent assemblies that were unable to work out a governmental structure to curb the selfish interests of the military and the wealthy grandees.
Brewer has a special talent for making history dramatic, and he uses it well in describing battles, especially sea battles, of which there were many. Yet he never includes any superfluous details. As a backdrop to the whole story he includes material on the various alliances, sometimes "holy" and constantly shifting, among such other European powers as England, France, Austria, and Russia. He is probably correct in his assessment that Great Britain was Greece's closest friend and most generous ally in the war of independence. But he also explains how the story of England's two enormous loans to the new nation turned into horror stories of nineteenth century capitalism gone wrong. The generosity of those English and French Philhellene idealists (most notably Lord Byron) who sacrificed their well being and sometimes their lives to the cause of Greek freedom is depicted honestly and with feeling.
This fine work of history can be recommended to the informed general reader but those with a solid background in historical studies will also enjoy it.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Okay, but much to be desired May 17 2006
By Brian Hawkinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
On a whole, the book does a decent job in laying out the picture of the Greek War for Independence. We understand where the Greeks were coming from, as well as how they achieved ultimate freedom. Additionally, we are given many decent character chapters on many minor players of the war. The battles themselves are outlined as we move in a somewhat linear fashion through the years.

But there are several factors that prevent this from being a recommendation. First off, this is an english language book, written, presumably, for people who can read english. Seems obvious, but this isn't so for Brewer. Throughout the book he throws in phrases, sayings, nicknames, poems and so on written in Greek, Latin, French or Russian. But rather than explain their significance, i.e. translate them to english, he leaves it just as is, leaving you wondering. He will say, the Russians nicknamed Kolokotronis "russian language". Or he will state in french what so and so thought of him, with no translation! How about a whole poem that Brewer says portrays someone perfectly, but it will be recited in the greek language! This goes throughout the book, constantly using foreign language anecdotes and descriptions without translating their meaning.

Secondly, he starts the book off telling about this secret society that set about Greece's revolutionary war, and then doesn't even so much as mention them after he tells us everything about them. I can understand that the war was bigger than this group, and so was lost after the war began and more Greeks became involved, but shouldn't you at least give a parting note or mention as to what happened to them? Not even a mention. Brewer himself just forgot to write about them, which is why I can't even remember what their group was called?!?!?

I can keep going, but I won't bore you. All in all, perhaps a good stepping stone, perhaps not. I now know enough about the Greek Revolution to be able to branch out and study some more and know what is going on. Would I recommend this book? Probably not. Although I am not personally aware of any, since I haven't studied this area of history too much, I am positive there are better books on this important time in Greece's history. An okay book with frustrating elements.

3.5 stars.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Good history, if a bit confusing Oct. 24 2002
By Frank J. Konopka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I knew next to nothing about the Greek war to separate itself from the Turks before reading this book. Only the highlights were in my mind, so I was very pleased to learn much more about this most interesting modern struggle. The author does his best in telling a very confused tale, although his habit of occasionally skipping back and forth, and some repetition, bothered me a bit. He also would give a quotation in its original language, and then fail to tell the reader what it said in translation! Unfortunatley, English is my only language, so I took umbrage at this lapse. The work itself moves fairly smoothly, introducing a vast number of people, and occasionally I got lost in all of the unfamiliar names and places, but that's my fault, and not the author's. All in all, this is a book that is well worth reading if you are interested in learning about its subject, as I was.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
For all levels if the interest is there. June 4 2002
By Andrew Georgiadis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Most amateurs (I would consider myself one) go into a history book with a slight apprehension - because you don't know what pre-assumed knowledge is there, or if you'll be lost at the end of the first chapter. Rest assured - not so here. Although this book is quite difficult to find, I received mine from my grandfather, who purchased it at an Athens bookshop -- his place of residence.
The citings are numerous but appropriate and yet not overwhelming, and the level of reading is not unbearably high. I, in all of my ignorance, had no idea what century the Greek Revolution was in before this work, and still found everything readable and comprehensible. The major players are emphasized, and gladly Brewer stays away from the unnecessary tangents that plague a lot of other writers. His narrative is focused and precise, and not disguised in the detail that we as readers don't want to know.
I found this highly enjoyable - and one gets a true sense of what a mangled and disorganized "revolution" Greece really had, and how close the campaign was to defeat on numerous occasions. As in all history, the fate of men hangs by but a thread, and such a piece could be the difference between life, death, left, right, up, down, or nothing at all. It remains true here.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Interesting time, interesting book March 15 2013
By Glenn D. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After reading many books of Europe, Latin American and America, I am realizing that after the American Revolution and the French Revolution, the paradigm was spreading all over the globe. Greece was no different. Greece wanted independence from The Ottomans. This book outlines the 15 years or so that it took to gain independence. The most mismanaged indepdence movement, it seems, of all of them. There was a civil war within the Greek community. There was botched naval battles, stolen funds and corrupt financing out of London. It took a treaty between the European Powers and The Ottomans to conclude the war and provide indepence to the Greeks. Any interesting read. Not sure if it the best one, but it was good. The writer was very passionate about the subject, which helped (some of his ancesters figured in the stories, although not prominately as he shared).

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