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Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews [Paperback]

Mark Mazower
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

17 Oct 2005

The history of a bewilderingly exotic city, rarely written about: five hundred years of clashing cultures and peoples, from the glories of Suleiman the Magnificent to its nadir under Nazi occupation.

Salonica is the point where the wonders and horrors of the Orient and Europe have met over the centuries.

Written with a Pepysian sense of the texture of daily life in the city through the ages, and with breathtakingly detailed historical research, Salonica evokes the sights, smells, habits, songs and responses of a unique city and its inhabitants. The history of Salonica is one of forgotten alternatives and wrong choices, of identities assumed and discarded. For centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims have succeeded each other in ascendancy, each people intent on erasing the presence of their predecessors, and the result is a city of extraordinarily rich cultural traditions and memories of extreme violence and genocide, one that sits on the overlapping hinterlands of both Europe and the East.

Mark Mazower has written a work of astonishing depth and originality about this remarkable city. Magnificently researched and beautifully written, it is more than a book about a place; it studies in detail the way in which three great faiths and peoples have inhabited the same territory, and how smooth transitions and adaptations have been interwoven with violent endings and new beginnings.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (17 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007120222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007120222
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Mazower is the author of Inside Hitler's Greece, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century, The Balkans, which won the Wolfson Prize for History, and Salonika: City of Ghosts, which won both the Runciman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. He has taught at the University of Sussex, Princeton University and Birkbeck College, University of London. He is now Professor of History at Columbia University.

Product Description

Review

‘A necessary masterpiece…a pleasure to read and curiously moreish.’ Louis de Bernieres, The Times

‘A tremendous book about a city unique not just in Europe, but in the entire history of humanity. Mazower…has done the old place proud…and has celebrated once and for all the mighty and fateful heritage of its citizens.’ Jan Morris, Guardian

‘[Mazower] sensitively analyses the internal debates and divisions which could be found within all the major communities.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘[Mazower] has produced a brilliant reconstruction of one of Europe’s great meeting places between the three monotheistic faiths.’ Economist

‘Mazower is a formidable historian…He has produced a majestic work: the biography of a city, complete with soul and ichor.’ Independent

‘Enthralling…brilliant…tragic, hopeful, beautifully written.’ Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Mark Mazower is the author of ‘Inside Hitler's Greece’ (Yale), ‘Dark Continent’ (Penguin Press) and ‘The Balkans’ (Weidenfeld). He is professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically accurate and highly enjoyable 26 Sep 2007
Format:Paperback
If you are interested in the history of Greece, of the Balkans, or of the Ottoman Empire, this beautifully written book is not to be missed. I disagree with the reviewer Yorgos who wrote that Mazower adopts the "stubborn and annoying British habit of calling the city "Salonica."" Mazower's book is about the history of the city from the the Ottoman conquest to the end of the 20th century, which is more than five centuries. During this period the city was called "Selanik" by the Ottomans, "Solun" by the Slavs, "Salonico" by the Sephardic Jews and "Saloniki" by Greeks. The ancient name "Thessalonike" (modern pronunciation: "Thessaloníki") was restored after the Greek conquest (1912) and it is still used today. "Salonica" is simply a shorter form of the Latin name, which was "Thessalonica".
With the exception of this point, I applaud Yorgos's review and I refer any potential buyers or readers to his very helpful text.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name? 10 Dec 2010
By F Henwood TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We think of the ethnic nation-state as ancient but it is not. It is a political novelty. Before the 19th Century, few of Europe's inhabitants lived under nation-states; fewer still thought themselves as members of a nation. If they defined themselves at all, it was by religion and faith, not ethnicity. From the 19th Century onwards, a new form of political affiliation arose: ethnic nationalism. This ideology was a stunning success. The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, relatively tolerant of ethnic diversity, fell before its onslaught. The human price paid to transform these empires into enclaves of pure ethnicity was huge.

Mazower tells this story as it relates to the experiences of one southern Balkan city, Salonica (Thessaloniki). As far as official Greek historiography is concerned, the city has always been Greek. The long Ottoman era (1430 to 1912) depicted as an oppressive interregnum, ignoring the real picture, whereby Jews, Christians and Muslims achieved a remarkable degree of co-existence. The city's Jewish and Muslim residents, expelled or exterminated, were written out of the story. The Christians became Greeks. But the dead and departed residents once defined the city every bit as much as its modern day Greek residents do. And the ancestors of those who remained once thought of themselves differently. The city has had a succession of identities. The modern city is built on the bones of the dead (literally in the case of the city's university, built as it is on the old Jewish cemetery).

These are the ghosts Mazower brings back from the dead in this book. Mazower reconstructs, in pain-staking prose, the spheres of piety, commerce and culture that bound together members of the three monotheistic faiths.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this book Mazower traces the development of the city of Salonica aka Thessaloniki aka Selanik from its foundation in antiquity to the modern day. On the way we pass through the Byzantine era, see the Ottoman Empire rise and fall and witness the emergence of the modern Greek state. Mazower's focus, as you might guess from the title, is on the changing populations within the city. He adopts the Ottoman division into Christian, Muslim and Jew as a basic paradigm for this story, but is sensitive to the fact that these were never static or homogenous communities.

As interesting as this history is it is also complicated. Mazower seems determined to capture every nuance which is laudable but ultimately exhausting. By the time we arrived at the 20th Century horror of the German occupation my fascination had worn thin and i have to confess i was longing for the book to end; but that may have also been related to the piecemeal way in which i ended up reading it.

What i learned from "Salonica, City of Ghosts" was how long-established communities and apparently deep-rooted identities can be swept aside in just a short time. The Ottoman world we see in photographs of the city in the early 20th Century is almost entirely obliterated now. The Ma'mun - a Jewish sect who embraced Islam and played such an important role in the city - have not only disappeared from Salonica but also vanished as a distinct group. The Christians - many of whose ancestors only immigrated from Turkey in the 1920s - are now solidly and proudly Greeks. And the Jews are almost all gone: transported and murdered by the Nazis.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars revealing 23 Feb 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book that perfectly describes the history of a great city which (unfortunately) is largely unknown. The drawback for Salonika (Thessaloniki) is that it lives under the shadow of Athens and thus most non-Greeks do not know anything about it. However it is a city with a continuous urban history of over 2300years. It has always been a big city while Athens was a small insignificant village from 200 BC to 1828 AD. The revealing aspect of mr Mazower`s book is that it describes in exact terms the complexity and multinational facets that have shaped the history of Salonica. The book`s facts are so accurate that most Greeks have never even imagined them. This is probably why this book has not gained any publicity whatsoever in Greece. The truth hurts and in this case Mazower demolishes ethno centered nationalistic and racist mythologies. All in all a great read and an accurate historical diatribe. Wow!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An ideal gift!
This is exactly what I was looking for as a gift for a close family member who is interested in history & originally from Salonica.
Published 2 months ago by Amanda
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent book. Essential reading for us Greeks as an alternative view to the history of the city and eventually the history of Greece.
Published 14 months ago by I. Papamargaritis
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Like a lot of people i bought this after reading The Thread, a very informative book I learnt a lot
Published 14 months ago by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Moving and Complete
The author claims that this book was 20 years in the making, and you have to believe him. It is a powerful masterpiece. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Athan
4.0 out of 5 stars A tragic episode for multiculturism
This is an impressively detailed and highly readable account of different facets of 500 years of Christian, Muslim and Jewish co-existence in a city finding itself at an ethnic... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ed Crutchley
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Book
Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the various groups who lived side by side in this city. Very readable.
Published 19 months ago by Ann Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Mazower's mastery
Having used Mazower's "Dark Continent" with university students;having read his magisterial tome on Hitler's empire; then moved to his excellent early book on Greece under Nazi... Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2012 by John S. McDonald
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but incomplete
This book on Salonica was most interesting indeed and certainly offers an indispensable preparation for anyone thinking of visiting this city - although, clearly, from Mazower's... Read more
Published on 18 Jan 2011 by Skylark
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Europe and Greece during and after WW I
This is a historical tale of the multicultural multiethnic city, as was later Beirut, Sarajevo..

A must for the enlightened reader who wants to understand what it is... Read more
Published on 1 July 2009 by G. P. Nicolaidis
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb history
This book achieves the difficult feat of combining incredible research and a feel for the human stories and incidents that make history come alive. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2006 by Bibliophile
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