Named one of the best books of 2019 by The Economist and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. A National Jewish Book Award finalist.
"A superb and touching book about the frailty of ties that hold together places and people." --The New York Times Book Review
An award-winning historian shares the true story of a frayed and diasporic Sephardic Jewish family preserved in thousands of letters
For centuries, the bustling port city of Salonica was home to the sprawling Levy family. As leading publishers and editors, they helped chronicle modernity as it was experienced by Sephardic Jews across the Ottoman Empire. The wars of the twentieth century, however, redrew the borders around them, in the process transforming the Levys from Ottomans to Greeks. Family members soon moved across boundaries and hemispheres, stretching the familial diaspora from Greece to Western Europe, Israel, Brazil, and India. In time, the Holocaust nearly eviscerated the clan, eradicating whole branches of the family tree.
In Family Papers, the prizewinning Sephardic historian Sarah Abrevaya Stein uses the family's correspondence to tell the story of their journey across the arc of a century and the breadth of the globe. They wrote to share grief and to reveal secrets, to propose marriage and to plan for divorce, to maintain connection. They wrote because they were family. And years after they frayed, Stein discovers, what remains solid is the fragile tissue that once held them together: neither blood nor belief, but papers.
With meticulous research and care, Stein uses the Levys' letters to tell not only their history, but the history of Sephardic Jews in the twentieth century.
Built in the fifth century b.c., the Parthenon has been venerated for more than two millennia as the West s ultimate paragon of beauty and proportion. Since the Enlightenment, it has also come to represent our political ideals, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving as the model for our most hallowed civic architecture. But how much do the values of those who built the Parthenon truly correspond with our own? And apart from the significance with which we have invested it, what exactly did this marvel of human hands mean to those who made it?
In this revolutionary book, Joan Breton Connelly challenges our most basic assumptions about the Parthenon and the ancient Athenians. Beginning with the natural environment and its rich mythic associations, she re-creates the development of the Acropolis the Sacred Rock at the heart of the city-state from its prehistoric origins to its Periklean glory days as a constellation of temples among which the Parthenon stood supreme. In particular, she probes the Parthenon s legendary frieze: the 525-foot-long relief sculpture that originally encircled the upper reaches before it was partially destroyed by Venetian cannon fire (in the seventeenth century) and most of what remained was shipped off to Britain (in the nineteenth century) among the Elgin marbles. The frieze s vast enigmatic procession a dazzling pageant of cavalrymen and elders, musicians and maidens has for more than two hundred years been thought to represent a scene of annual civic celebration in the birthplace of democracy. But thanks to a once-lost play by Euripides (the discovery of which, in the wrappings of a Hellenistic Egyptian mummy, is only one of this book s intriguing adventures), Connelly has uncovered a long-buried meaning, a story of human sacrifice set during the city s mythic founding. In a society startlingly preoccupied with cult ritual, this story was at the core of what it meant to be Athenian. Connelly reveals a world that beggars our popular notions of Athens as a city of staid philosophers, rationalists, and rhetoricians, a world in which our modern secular conception of democracy would have been simply incomprehensible.
The Parthenon s full significance has been obscured until now owing in no small part, Connelly argues, to the frieze s dismemberment. And so her investigation concludes with a call to reunite the pieces, in order that what is perhaps the greatest single work of art surviving from antiquity may be viewed more nearly as its makers intended. Marshalling a breathtaking range of textual and visual evidence, full of fresh insights woven into a thrilling narrative that brings the distant past to life, "The Parthenon Enigma" is sure to become a landmark in our understanding of the civilization from which we claim cultural descent."
"In 1953, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Alice was dressed from head to foot in a long gray dress and a gray cloak, and a nun's veil. Amidst all the jewels, and velvet and coronets, and the fine uniforms, she exuded an unworldly simplicity. Seated with the royal family, she was a part of them, yet somehow distanced from them. Inasmuch as she is remembered at all today, it is as this shadowy figure in gray nun's clothes..."
Princess Alice, mother of Prince Phillip, was something of a mystery figure even within her own family. She was born deaf, at Windsor Castle, in the presence of her grandmother, Queen Victoria, and brought up in England, Darmstadt, and Malta.
In 1903 she married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and from then on her life was overshadowed by wars, revolutions, and enforced periods of exile. By the time she was thirty-five, virtually every point of stability was overthrown. Though the British royal family remained in the ascendant, her German family ceased to be ruling princes, her two aunts who had married Russian royalty had come to savage ends, and soon afterwards Alice's own husband was nearly executed as a political scapegoat.
The middle years of her life, which should have followed a conventional and fulfilling path, did the opposite. She suffered from a serious religious crisis and at the age of forty-five was removed from her family and placed in a sanitarium in Switzerland, where she was pronounced a paranoid schizophrenic. As her stay in the clinic became prolonged, there was a time where it seemed she might never walk free again. How she achieved her recovery is just one of the remarkable aspects of her story.
The Classical Athenians were the first to articulate and implement the notion that ordinary citizens of no particular affluence or education could make responsible political decisions. For this reason, reactions to Athenian democracy have long provided a prime Rorschach test for political thought. Whether praising Athens's government as the legitimizing ancestor of modern democracies or condemning it as mob rule, commentators throughout history have revealed much about their own notions of politics and society. In this book, Jennifer Roberts charts responses to Athenian democracy from Athens itself through the twentieth century, exploring a debate that touches upon historiography, ethics, political science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, gender studies, and educational theory.
Compelling evidence that the events of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey took place in the Baltic and not the Mediterranean- Reveals how a climate change forced the migration of a people and their myth to ancient Greece - Identifies the true geographic sites of Troy and Ithaca in the Baltic Sea and Calypso's Isle in the North Atlantic Ocean For years scholars have debated the incongruities in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, given that his descriptions are at odds with the geography of the areas he purportedly describes. Inspired by Plutarch's remark that Calypso's Isle was only five days sailing from Britain, Felice Vinci convincingly argues that Homer's epic tales originated not in the Mediterranean, but in the northern Baltic Sea. Using meticulous geographical analysis, Vinci shows that many Homeric places, such as Troy and Ithaca, can still be identified in the geographic landscape of the Baltic. He explains how the dense, foggy weather described by Ulysses befits northern not Mediterranean climes, and how battles lasting through the night would easily have been possible in the long days of the Baltic summer. Vinci's meteorological analysis reveals how a decline of the "climatic optimum" caused the blond seafarers to migrate south to warmer climates, where they rebuilt their original world in the Mediterranean. Through many generations the memory of the heroic age and the feats performed by their ancestors in their lost homeland was preserved and handed down to the following ages, only later to be codified by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Felice Vinci offers a key to open many doors that allow us to consider the age-old question of the Indo-European diaspora and the origin of the Greek civilization from a new perspective.
Beneath the cultural peaks of Ancient Greece lay the basic agricultural economy that made civilization possible. This book studies Greek country life from its earliest beginnings to the recent past, revealing a sequence of geological, geographical, cultural, and economic images spanning some 50,000 years of human settlement and land use.
Although some saw Greek brigands as no more than hardened criminals, to others they were veritable national heroes and avengers of social injustice. The book examines brigandage and irredentism in Greece since the War of Independence, tracing the intimate links between the two, their impact on Greek politics and statecraft, and their influence on modern Greek identity and nationalism.
Between 1941 and 1944, the Germans and the Italians imposed a brutal occupation of Greece. This, as well as the outbreak of famine, drove many Greeks to join a variety of resistance movements in the mountains. The British government anticipated the German occupation of Europe and created the Special Operations Executive (SOE). One directorate of the SOE was responsible for partisan activity in the mountains and another directorate focused on encouraging espionage and sabotage in Greek cities. Over 3000 Greeks and British operated espionage networks that made a significant contribution to the war effort in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately the work of the spy and saboteur working in the shadows remained classified until the end of the twentieth century. The release of SOE documents in the twenty-first century provides an amazing insight into how intelligence operations were a critical part of the Allied victory of the Second World War. The aim of the book is to bring to life the stories of the ghosts of the shadow war.
"The book is a pioneer study in its field. Besides offering a rigorous historical reconstruction, it presents an excellent analysis of the relationship between institutional and contentious politics through different regimes and periods. The book offers a clear historical reconstruction and an innovative theoretical reflection. For this, it might be an interesting reading not only for experts - students, scholars, or journalists - but also for a more general public interested in such events." - Democratization
Putting Greece back on the cultural and political map of the "Long 1960s," this book traces the dissent and activism of anti-regime students during the dictatorship of the Colonels (1967-74). It explores the cultural as well as ideological protest of Greek student activists, illustrating how these "children of the dictatorship" managed to re-appropriate indigenous folk tradition for their "progressive" purposes and how their transnational exchange molded a particular local protest culture. It examines how the students' social and political practices became a major source of pressure on the Colonels' regime, finding its apogee in the three day Polytechnic uprising of November 1973 which laid the foundations for a total reshaping of Greek political culture in the following decades.
Kostis Kornetis is Assistant Professor at the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University. He received his PhD in History and Civilization from the European University Institute, Florence. From 2007 to 2012 he taught in the History Department at Brown University. His research focuses on the history and memory of the 1960s, the methodology of oral history, and the use of film as a source for social and cultural history.