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on 13 June 2005
Forget the usual sub soviet mumbo jumbo and codified propaganda which we have become used to from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot political elites. Papadakis talks in depth to the ordinary Cypriots about the heartache and horror to which they have been through over the last 50 years.
This book is by a Cypriot who is not afraid to question his own preconceived ideas, and those of his compatriots from both sides. Papadakis lived with the "other side" for lengthy periods and this gives the book a depth that I have never encountered before on this subject. For once we have a book which is not obsessed by big power conspiracy theories and actually shines a light on the mistakes of both communities and indirectly suggests the obvious. Compromise can really only come from Cypriots themselves. If they have the courage and political will to see the other side as human beings and not merely ciphers and caricatures which each leadership has encouraged until recently then there is still hope.
This is a fascinating read, I couldn't put it down until the last page.
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on 28 June 2007
Yiannis Pappadakis has written an extraordinary book in the purest sense of the word. It is as far away from the normal regional and bi-zonal nationalistic polemics on Cyprus as a brick is from a fish. This book is brave, insightful, balanced, reflective and honest. He accurately details the tragic paradoxes with empathy and compassion: it was actually the Greek Junta which precipitated the military action of 1974 although the current President constantly emphasises the essential Hellenic nature of the island (really, is that accurate?); EOKA killed more Greek Cypriots than the British forces did; TMT killed Turkish Cypriots to blame Greek Cypriots for their death; the Turkish authorities in Cyprus tried to ensure Pappadakis saw and reported only what they wanted the Greeks to read. What a depressing cycle and circle of self-obsessed nationalism and selective view of history (which is of course written by winners -- but there are no winners here.) I had started to choose some relevant quotes to illustrate this review, but frankly there are just too many: anyone with an intelligent objective interest in the history of this most complex of islands should read this book now, in order to understand the seemingly intractable local and regional political positions. I have little doubt that some will attack this book as being overly impartial and sympathetic towards the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey -- those chapters are a tour de force of political delicacy; unlike the Bishop in Cyprus who declared that those who voted for the Annan Plan would go to hell (literally `lose Heaven' if they accepted the Annan plan (no pressure.). His analysis that Cyprus is obsessively insular is only too true. I urge readers to read the on-line Cyprus newspapers: try [...] and they will see precisely what he describes in the self-absorption of the press and its political favourites and targets of ire. The outside world does not seem to exist, and that is a tragedy. If you contemplate your navel endlessly, you will have a detailed knowledge only about yourself and care nothing for others.
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on 9 June 2013
I visit Cyprus every 6 months to teach medical and nursing staff and treat disabled patients with spinal cord injuries. I read several books previously on the subject of the divide and the background to the troubles to understand why this country remains divided. I heard the usual stories from both sides although like the author I am based on the Greek side. On a recent working visit to Cyprus a patient of mine gave me this book as a token of gratitude. Although not a history book I must say that I enjoyed reading it enormously. Informative and very funny and the author has intelligently structured it. I could not put it down.... Do not miss it. I started to understand Cyprus much better after reading it....
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on 22 September 2014
Most books on the recent history of Cyprus tend to approach the subject from the elevated level of politics, empires, diplomacy, international plotting, government and so forth.

Here, the author takes a human view of the situation and events from the perspective of people whose lives were embroiled in or affected by the upheavals from 1960 to recent years. Many are living in what he calls the dead zone; the 'green line' established by the United Nations. One of the conventional myths exposed in the book concerns this 'green line'; it was not drawn in 1974, but eleven years previously and it is not a line, but a place where Christian and Muslim people live out uneasy lives together.

I found the book to be a very compelling read and a welcome change from the usual approach.

I learnt a few new things about Cyprus; the politics of the Coffee Shops, that the term Hadj is also used for the Christian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, how the education system schools the pupils in hatred, that there were many refugees before 1974; in the 1960's when Turkey came close to intervening, the origin of Grivas's alter ego 'Digenis' and that Akrites are people on the border line.

I like the style of writing; honest, humorous and highly readable. There are memorable phrases; 'the language of pain', 'everyone knew someone who did not exist', 'Greeks who did not yet know they were Greek', 'the mantle of national honour'.

It is an enlightening book that brings out the importance of the human emotions of guilt, hatred and fear, in the current divisions. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the island.
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on 5 August 2009
This book is good in the sense that it offers a fairly balanced view of how Cypriots today look at the troubles that have plagued the island. What this book lacks is a description of what these troubles exactly were, why they happened and who was involved. This book does emphasize the view of moderate Cypriots, a voice seldomly heard and mostly drowned out by the extremists on both sides.

Read this book, but only after you have read some other books that explain the events that lead to Cyprus independence and the 1974 events. It will put a lot this book has to offer in context.
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on 20 November 2014
A true novelty, here's someone who is able to take a step back from all the bias and hate-filled rhetoric which pervades the Cyprus 'problem.' If only others were capable of looking forward and moving forward, then there might be some hope for this divided island. The book fizzles out a little towards the end, but Mr Papadakis has taken the trouble and had the courage to ignore all the propaganda he (presumably) was fed in his early years and explored the issues from the perspective of the 'other side.'
Even if you don't agree with him - and many will not - you should, after reading this book, at least be challenging some of the preconceptions.
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on 30 August 2012
As a Cypriot I found this book eye-opening, written in a humane and simple language but above all it was refreshingly truthful, depicting views from both sides. I wish this book was included in schools' libraries and/or curicculum. Definetely a must read for every Cypriot and anyone interested in the Cyprus conflict!
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on 6 October 2006
This is the first opportunity to hear accounts from both sides of the divide. I have just spent a year in southern Nicosia, and tried to see ALL of the island as much as I could, reading the press on both sides, you realise what a mirror image both sides are; united by customs and the majority of things, but yet divided by the few, the few that take voice. This is the first time that the reality was shown in a book and not the typical propaganda that both sides push to further their greedy agendas. By far the best book I have read about Cyprus so far, and no coincidence that it comes from someone interested in people and not history. We need more books like this.
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on 31 July 2006
This is the best account of people's experiences in Cyprus to have come out. It describes the thoughts and emotions of a whole range of people and manages to capture moods and attitudes. It is not meant to be a history of Cyprus but there is much useful historic information. It is not meant to be a 'whodunnit' but rather is concerned with the everyday, the memories and feelings of people from both sides, of all ages and political convictions.
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on 10 April 2006
the book is really good. in an excellent prose it describes the journey of self-discovery of a man ready to know himself beyond prejudices. it shows how misconceptions and intolerance distort the way we understand 'the other'. it is a book that is much needed in Cyprus where prejudices are still in a great degree prevalent. a must-read for eveyone. a guide to self-knowledge tolerance and humanism
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