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The Greek War of Independence [Hardcover]

By David Brewer (Author)
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Outline ReviewAt the beginning of the 19th century, the Ottoman empire extended far into Central Europe, occupying nearly all of the Balkan Peninsula. Three decades later, it would lie fragmented, thanks to the efforts of Greek patriots who, after a bloody struggle, forced their Turkish rulers to acknowledge Greece's independence. Classics scholar David Brewer tells that story in this comprehensive account, the first on the subject to appear in many years.

The Turkish empire, Brewer writes, was "one of the most impressive that the world has ever seen," the product of generations of conquest and control. By 1800, however, it had declined in power and influence, and, lacking wealthy client states to feed its treasury, the Ottoman government inaugurated a severe program of taxation on such essential Mediterranean goods as sheep, olives, honey, and grapes, compounding the injury by drafting young Greeks to serve in the imperial army. Resistance grew, especially as Ottoman functionaries such as the Ali Pasha (whom Lord Byron, the British poet and champion of Greek freedom, called "a remorseless tyrant, guilty of the most horrible cruelties") carved out bits and pieces of Greece as private fiefdoms. Inspired by the American and French revolutions, the Greeks finally revolted, touching off a terrible war that would cost hundreds of thousands of lives, involve the major European powers (which, as in later troubles in the Balkans, proved ineffectual), and hasten the downfall of the Ottoman empire.

Brewer takes an evenhanded view of the struggle, noting acts of heroism, cruelty, and treachery on both sides. Students of modern European history will find his study of a largely forgotten conflict to be of much interest, especially given recent events in the region. --Gregory McNamee

Product Description
The Greek War of Independence offers an authoritative account--told in gripping detail--of the fight to end four centuries of brutal Ottoman rule over Greece. Fought over twelve bloody years between 1821 and 1833, the Greek revolution captured the imagination of the Romantic Age, inspiring painters, poets and patriots the world over to celebrate the Greek cause and join the fight. For nearly four hundred years the Ottoman Turks governed Greece, subjecting the country to crushing and arbitrary tax burdens and its peasants to serfdom.

The glories of the ancient past were gone, and under Turkish rule Greece was poor and backward. But inspired by the examples of the American and French revolutions, Napoleon's victories, and the Latin American wars of liberation, the Greek people rose up against their Turkish masters in 1821. For twelve brutal years - years of terrible violence and bloody massacre - the Greeks and the foreign volunteers who flocked to their cause fought until independence was won in 1833.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Overlook Hardcover
Pages   376
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.27" Width: 6.35" Height: 1.32"
Weight:   1.59 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2003
Publisher   Overlook Hardcover
ISBN  158567172X  
ISBN13  9781585671724  

Availability  0 units.

More About David Brewer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Brewer was a classics scholar at Oxford and then studied modern Greek. The Greek War of Independence, the result of a lifelong interest in the history and culture of Greece, is his first book. He lives in London.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Greece > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
4Books > Subjects > History > World > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Greek War of Independence?

great potential but poor execution.   Dec 16, 2006
The Greek war for intendance from the Ottoman Empire is an interesting story but there is something lacking from this book. This book does lay out the basic facts that you need but I found it to be somewhat schizophrenic. The nationality of Greece is born out of this civil war and Brewer does a decent job of explaining that. As another reviewer mentioned there is a fascinating look at a secret society that then disappears for the rest of the book. Overall it is just a mediocre book that had great potential but lacked in execution.
Okay, but much to be desired  May 17, 2006
On a whole, the book does a decent job in laying out the picture of the Greek War for Independence. We understand where the Greeks were coming from, as well as how they achieved ultimate freedom. Additionally, we are given many decent character chapters on many minor players of the war. The battles themselves are outlined as we move in a somewhat linear fashion through the years.

But there are several factors that prevent this from being a recommendation. First off, this is an english language book, written, presumably, for people who can read english. Seems obvious, but this isn't so for Brewer. Throughout the book he throws in phrases, sayings, nicknames, poems and so on written in Greek, Latin, French or Russian. But rather than explain their significance, i.e. translate them to english, he leaves it just as is, leaving you wondering. He will say, the Russians nicknamed Kolokotronis "russian language". Or he will state in french what so and so thought of him, with no translation! How about a whole poem that Brewer says portrays someone perfectly, but it will be recited in the greek language! This goes throughout the book, constantly using foreign language anecdotes and descriptions without translating their meaning.

Secondly, he starts the book off telling about this secret society that set about Greece's revolutionary war, and then doesn't even so much as mention them after he tells us everything about them. I can understand that the war was bigger than this group, and so was lost after the war began and more Greeks became involved, but shouldn't you at least give a parting note or mention as to what happened to them? Not even a mention. Brewer himself just forgot to write about them, which is why I can't even remember what their group was called?!?!?

I can keep going, but I won't bore you. All in all, perhaps a good stepping stone, perhaps not. I now know enough about the Greek Revolution to be able to branch out and study some more and know what is going on. Would I recommend this book? Probably not. Although I am not personally aware of any, since I haven't studied this area of history too much, I am positive there are better books on this important time in Greece's history. An okay book with frustrating elements.

3.5 stars.
A little dry but good starting point  Jul 13, 2005
I wanted to read this book because i wanted to learn more about Greece's independence, a subject which i am not very familiar with.I was a little disspointed with this book because the account of the war is dry and sometimes dull.Maybe if i read more about this conflict i'll understand it a little bit better.I enjoyed the parts where the author describes the internal conflicts in the greek army and also i enjoyed the author's account of the intervention by foreign powers such as Great Britain.I guess it is a good start for someone who was to know about the conflict but the author doesnt do a good job in describing it
Good history, if a bit confusing  Oct 24, 2002
I knew next to nothing about the Greek war to separate itself from the Turks before reading this book. Only the highlights were in my mind, so I was very pleased to learn much more about this most interesting modern struggle. The author does his best in telling a very confused tale, although his habit of occasionally skipping back and forth, and some repetition, bothered me a bit. He also would give a quotation in its original language, and then fail to tell the reader what it said in translation! Unfortunatley, English is my only language, so I took umbrage at this lapse. The work itself moves fairly smoothly, introducing a vast number of people, and occasionally I got lost in all of the unfamiliar names and places, but that's my fault, and not the author's. All in all, this is a book that is well worth reading if you are interested in learning about its subject, as I was.
For all levels if the interest is there.  Jun 5, 2002
Most amateurs (I would consider myself one) go into a history book with a slight apprehension - because you don't know what pre-assumed knowledge is there, or if you'll be lost at the end of the first chapter. Rest assured - not so here. Although this book is quite difficult to find, I received mine from my grandfather, who purchased it at an Athens bookshop -- his place of residence.

The citings are numerous but appropriate and yet not overwhelming, and the level of reading is not unbearably high. I, in all of my ignorance, had no idea what century the Greek Revolution was in before this work, and still found everything readable and comprehensible. The major players are emphasized, and gladly Brewer stays away from the unnecessary tangents that plague a lot of other writers. His narrative is focused and precise, and not disguised in the detail that we as readers don't want to know.

I found this highly enjoyable - and one gets a true sense of what a mangled and disorganized "revolution" Greece really had, and how close the campaign was to defeat on numerous occasions. As in all history, the fate of men hangs by but a thread, and such a piece could be the difference between life, death, left, right, up, down, or nothing at all. It remains true here.


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