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Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey [Paperback]

Bruce Clark
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Mar 2007
It was a massive, yet little-known landmark in modern history: in 1923, after a long war over the future of the Ottoman world, nearly two million citizens of Turkey or Greece were moved across the Aegean, expelled from their homes because they were the 'wrong' religion. Orthodox Christians were deported from Turkey to Greece, Muslims from Greece to Turkey. At the time, world statesmen hailed the transfer as a solution to the problem of minorities who could not co-exist. Both governments saw the exchange as a chance to create societies where a single culture prevailed. But how did the people who crossed the Aegean feel about this exercise in ethnic engineering? Bruce Clark's fascinating account of these turbulent events draws on new archival research in Greece and Turkey, and interviews with some of the surviving refugees, allowing them to speak for themselves for the first time.

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Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey + Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922 - The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance + Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; 1st Edition edition (5 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862079242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862079243
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


* 'Twice A Stranger is a book that needed to be written, and Bruce Clark has achieved it superbly. Anyone with an interest in Greece or Turkey ought to read it' Daily Telegraph * 'Wise new book... fascinating' Sunday Times

About the Author

Bruce Clark writes on European Affairs and Religion for the Economist. He has been diplomatic correspondent of the Financial Times, Moscow correspondent for The Times, and Athens correspondent for Reuters. He has previously written An Empire's New Clothes (Vintage).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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Like many others,no doubt,who've visited Turkey's Agean and Black Sea coasts,I've noticed heaps of ruins on hillsides and hilltops scattered here and there as the bus goes between modern Turkish towns.I stopped off at one just outside Gelibolu last November,but thanks to Bruce Clark's book in my rucksack,I had some idea of what happened there in the early 1920s.
Clark's book shows how,in the aftermath of World War One,the Allies and Greece tried to reshape the ethnic Turkish heartland of the Ottoman Empire.They didn't foresee the emergence of Ataturk,the explosion of Turkish nationalism,and Ataturk and his followers' willingness to go to extremes to achieve their objectives,nor what lengths the Greek army would go to to subdue Turks in zones occupied by them.
By far the best bits of this are the eyewitness testimonies of very aged Greek and Turkish who were caught up in the war,reprisals and forced migration.In total,about 2 million Turks and Greeks were forcibly exchanged,Greeks from the Black Sea and Agean littoral,even as far away as Cappodocia,Turks from Crete and Salonika,as well as many Agean islands.Greek-speaking muslims and Turkish-speaking christians were expelled as religion was the criteria used to judge who should be expelled or not.The stories are heartbreaking,not just of the expulsion but also how the expellees tried to make new lives in their unwanted new homelands.The destruction of Turkey's urban economy,already weakened by the mass killings of Armenians in 1915-16,was completed by the expulsion of the urban Greeks.Greece's agricultural economy suddenly had to make room for farmers expelled from Turkey.Total disaster,in other words-except for nationalist politicians in both Athens and Ankara.Nation-building could now commence.
Was it all really inevitable?
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Story 19 Jun 2007
This is a chilling reminder of the way in which ordinary people often pay the cost of mistakes in international politics and disputes. In 'Twice A Stranger' Clarke explains how the implementation of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 led to hundreds of thousands of Turkish Christians being expelled into Greece while Greek Muslims were expelled into Turkey. The title of the book comes from an explanation given by one of the exchangees. They felt they were 'twice a stranger'; a stranger in the country they were born in as well as a stranger in the country they were forced to live in.

Clark's interweaving of the political history and personal stories creates an absorbing and readable account of a largely forgotten period of twentieth century history.

This great book could be read in conjunction with 'Birds Without Wings' by Louis De Bernieres as this gives a brilliant, personalised (if fictional) account of the exchange through the eyes of a small community in Western Anatolia.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impartial account account of the exchange 20 Sep 2007
Coming from a family which had to leave Salonica in 1912 during the Balkan Wars, I found the book very well prepared and unbiased.
Both Venizelos and Ataturk had the desire of creating -mono ethnic- nation states during the most problematic years of the history required and saw the exchange as an opportunity to stabilize their turf, which lead to great deal of suffering of individuals. For readers who are interested in this topic I highly recommend 'Salonica, city of ghosts' by Mark Mazower, 'Levander Seller' by Nicholas Stavroulakis and 'Emanet Ceyiz' by Kemal Yalcin.

I especially liked the final section of the book as it is intriquing a question in the readers' mind about the future of homogenious nation states in the fast globalizing world. To be more precise, how will Turkey be able to coop to become a member of the European Union with its heavily protected, single nation state ideology, with nearly non existent Christian population.

Will Turkey be able to tolerate/live in a multi ethnic state?
I personally beleive that, having surged from the ruins of an empire with multi religion, multi ethinicity; which in a way, lead to its collapse and with a xenophobic population this is going to be challanging for the Turks but not impossible.
However, the bigger question is, will european union and its population be able to live side by side, as equal individuals with 70 million Turks especially during a time where Muslimophobia is fast spreading?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By haunted
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As part of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne Greece and Turkey agreed to, in effect, swap the Greek population living in Turkey and the Muslim population living in Greece. This book examines the reasons for and effects of this agreement.

The transfer involved nearly two million people, many of whom were families who had lived on the same land for generations. In hindsight this seems to have been a bizarre agreement. However one should remember that the agreement came in the aftermath of WWI, which had cost millions of lives and the brutal war between Greece and the post Ottoman Turkish nationalist government. It is clear from this book that despite the undoubted hardship being caused both governments genuinely thought the transfer was for the best.

Bruce Clark takes a two track approach in this book. He gives the diplomatic history of the Treaty negotiations but he also goes into great detail about the personal trauma that was inflicted on many families.

The author has obviously spent a lot of time in the region and has spoken to many elderly people whose lives were changed forever by their family moving from one country to the other. From these stories it is obvious that the people who were forced to move had mixed feelings about the move. Both Turks and Greeks recognised that staying in a country where there were not very welcome might not be very safe in the long term. However their departure represented a break with sometimes hundreds of years of family history in these places. Even in their old age individuals remember the good times in their former homes, though nearly always with the caveat that, like both governments, they thought it was probably for the best that they left.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In time
Book arrived well packaged and in time for my friend to bring it over for me. Haven't had a chance to read it.
Published 11 months ago by Christina Logan
4.0 out of 5 stars politicans decide...people survive
it is a very interesting book about the forced population exchange between two nations and cultures.who purely on the surface are enemies,but who are in many ways connect. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Wheels
4.0 out of 5 stars worth a read
as I have a home in Belek Turkey I decided it was time I learnt a bit about the history of Turkey. On informative read, quite sad and humbling in how a human race can be treated... Read more
Published 14 months ago by lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and touching
Just could not stop turning the pages. Fabulous, balanced narration from both sides of the story. This is essential reading for anyone even with a slight interest in this topic.
Published on 16 Jan 2012 by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and informative
Bruce Clark has made a good job of giving an account of the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey after the Treaty of Lausanne. Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2011 by Mrs. M. Connolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Making history human
The Lausanne Treaty led to a population exchange involving millions of 'Turks' and 'Greeks' in 1923. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by BlueSkiesForever
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent read
Having an interest in the history of both Greece and Turkey, i found this book to be an excellent edition to the many books available on this topic. Read more
Published on 9 Dec 2009 by James Watson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
As previous reviewers have rightly said this could only be written by a foreigner (Non Turk or Greek) The author also has the benefit of neither being over simplistic or arrogant. Read more
Published on 18 April 2009 by Gogol
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well researched
Such a book could only have been written by a foreigner (non-Greek & non-Turk), as the subject is still off-limits for most Greeks and Turks. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2007 by Dinos A
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