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A searing and harrowing insight into relatively recent Greek history,
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This review is from: Eleni (Paperback)
I first encountered a serialised version of this book (Probabaly an RD version) as a child and even then it had made a considerable impression on me, even if I was probably too young to understand fully the politics of it, but even as a young boy I could appreciate the harrowing impact of losing ones mother, especially in such horrific circumstances.
Whilst there has been some criticism levelled at Gage along the lines of his personal bias and his therefore quite understandable anti communist perspective offering a perhaps skewed impression of the Greek Civil War. What is undeniable is his pedigree as an investigative journalist and the vast research that he has brought this experience to bear on his own personal story. Recreating it, as he does as a partially 3rd person account, part personal recollection through he eyes of a young boy and part recreated or imagined from the accounts of all those he interviewed (over 200 apparently) in trying to piece together the entire story of how and why his mother was executed. That he does this so magnificently and in so great and gripping a level of detail is testament to both his ability as a researcher but also as a great story teller.
It may be intrepreted as either a commendation or a negative mark against the book that apparently President Ronald Regan claimed that he decided to reenter arms treaty negotiations with the USSR after reading this book. Be that as it may, it is certainly a harrowing indictement of the many failed totaliarian regiemes and political experiments that have been imposed on peoples round the world, often against their will, during the 20th century and, as such is a good companion piece to the likes of Wild Swans and The Killing Fields. It was also interesting in that it sheds a totally different perspective on the Greek experience of the 1940's than say the fictional and somewhat at times idyllic portrayal of the Greece of De Berniers Captain Corellis Mandolin.
Like many historical books on such a vast scale this gives me an appetite for further reading and research on the period covered and the politics of the region, even if, outside all the politics and tyranny and betrayal, it is simply at heart a tale of the love of a mother for her family above all alse and the lengths she was prepared to go to protect them which ultimately cost her her life. And that to any parent of young children, which I now am myself, is probabaly the most disturbing and truly harrowing narrative one can read in any genre