Civil and Uncivil Wars: Memories of a Greek Childhood, 1936 - 1950 (Hardcover)
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Less extreme than the wartime experiences of J. G. Ballard or Jerzy Kosinski but in the same vivid tradition, Civil and Uncivil Wars is a profound, touching, occasionally disconcerting, unfailingly candid, and consistently engaging reminder that the full measure of war and domestic unrest cannot be appreciated without the telling insights of the young.
As the bloody European war intensified across the continent, Greece, with Athens as its epicenter, was embroiled in the complexities of civil war with rightists, centrists, resisters, collaborators, moderate leftists, and Communists actively vying for local dominance when the German occupation began in 1941 and surreptitiously afterward. Against this tense and shifting backdrop, Nicholas Rizopoulos—decades later a discerning historian of European diplomacy—came of age, a challenging enough proposition in times of peace but that much more poignant and unpredictable during war.
As Greek to the core, the author's family was rooted in the complex cultural life of northern Greece—Macedonia and Thessaly, the fading Ottomans, the ghosts of the Balkan wars, and the re-ascendant Greek polity following the First World War. Athens became their stage, and the narrative beautifully captures the author's formative transition from his early childhood in pre-war Greece though his schoolboy years in an occupied and oftentimes menacing city. Lively and intimate, reflective and concrete, Civil and Uncivil Wars is both a boy's eye view of growing up in a complex family and a mature scholar's subtle insights into the larger context that had shaped his own life without his knowing it at the time.
About the Author
Nicholas X. Rizopoulos is academic director and lecturer in international politics and diplomacy in the Honors College at Adelphi University, where he has taught since 1995. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, he completed his secondary education at The Hotchkiss School and received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Yale University, where he was also a junior faculty member for ten years. He was one of the founders of the Lehrman Institute, a New York—based foreign and economic policy think tank, where he served as executive director from 1973 to 1987. He subsequently served as vice president and director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in New York with his wife.
“Civil and Uncivil Wars combines a compelling coming-of-age story with an absorbing memoir of a corner of Europe caught up in the most destructive war ever fought. It is as gripping as the best novels and as powerful as the finest works of history.” —Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy, The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
“A discerning historian, Nicholas Rizopoulos has written an intimate and moving memoir of growing up in an upscale neighborhood of Athens in the midst of family crises, war, enemy occupation, and national upheaval. It is a story of self-discovery and perseverance that offers fascinating insights into life and society in wartime and post-liberation Greece.” —John O. Iatrides, Southern Connecticut State University