The Cretan Runner (Penguin World War II Collection) Paperback – 6 Aug 2009
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About the Author
George Psychoundakis was born in Crete in 1920. After a brief period of schooling he lived as a shepherd until the beginning of the German occupation in 1941, when he joined the Cretan resistance as a runner. He was later awarded the BEM.
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Top Customer Reviews
Psychoundakis became a runner - sometimes wearing boots, others times in bits of old tyres, tied to his feet with string - across the most rugged, inhospitable landscape to carry messages for the British secret agents who came to the island during those troubled times. He was awarded the BEM by the British in 1945; he was thrown into jail by his own countrymen for months as a deserter because his relevant Greek military documents could not be found. When they were, he nevertheless had to perform two more years' service with the Greek army. He had a terribly hard life but in his later years he translated Homer into the Cretan dialect. He was Godfather to many Cretans and was trotted out at every opportunity to be shown off. When I met him in Tavronitis, western Crete, aged seventy-five in 1996 and he signed my copy of his book, he did look a little fed up - perhaps he'd been displayed once too often! A great man and a great book.
George was a shepherd boy who had virtually educated himself and had not even travelled as far as the Cretan capital before the war, when he became a runner for the SOE and Cretan resistance.
Patrick Leigh Fermor (whose own life is the stuff of legends, and who has been heaped with honours both in UK and in Greece), kept in touch with George and translated this book as closely as possible in George's own words- LF himself is no mean writer but wisely added little of his own except some explanatory footnotes. George later translated Homer into the Cretan dialect but went back to his village after the war. He died a few years ago and his obituary was written by Artemis Cooper, Anthony Beevor's wife.
A remarkable man , and a remarkable account, which is a very important document.
As the Introduction explains, Crete is 160 miles long and betwen 20 and 40 miles wide. That would seem to make it an unsuitable place for irregular warfare, but the topography of the island leads to a different view. The mountains which covr much of Crete are often over 7,000 feet high and in places over 8,000 feet. This and the fact that, at the time, the only trans-island road was the North coast East-West route, meant that Crete was in fact ideal guerrilla territory, all the more so in a day when helicopters, drones, satellites and high-altitude spy planes etc were unknown.
Crete had been occupied by Allied forces early in the war, but fell to German parachute forces under General Student. The Allied forces then were either killed, captured or escaped to Egypt. Thus the irregular formations. The war in Crete betwen the Cretan irregulars and their German opponents was harsh in the extreme, with little quarter given on either side. That is the backdrop to this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely amazing book, I was totally absorbed reading this. One of the Second World War's lesser known episodes, the Battle of Crete and the true stories of bravery written by a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lesley Sinden
A most fascinating insight into the life of a member of the Cretan resistance during World War II. George Psychoundakis was only a young boy when the Nazis invaded Crete in 1941. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mr. A Weston
Bought as a gift for a friend... I've had my own copy for many years. A must read for those interested in the events during the German occupation of Crete.Published 6 months ago by Sylvia B
This is a great book if you're into this subject.
Read 4 years ago now, still remember it all.
You will warm to George. Read more
Having been to Crete recently, this book gave me a whole new appreciation from the citizens view of the Battle of Crete as well as the experience of those who were in the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by TC in 08
A great true story. If you go to Crete on holiday you will find the locations in the book which makes it real. You may meet relatives of the Shepard boys in hanks. Read morePublished 19 months ago by D A
THE CRETAN RUNNER book is totally brilliant and awe-inspiring. Although this book was written some years ago it is historical in content and full of fantastic information about... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Saphira
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