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Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation Reviews

Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation by Roderick Beaton

Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation

Roderick Beaton

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2 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Allen Lane
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 7 Mar 2019
ISBN: 9780241312841
3 stars out of 5
13 Jul 2019

"Beaton writes with measured compassion about the European country"

Beaton, whom I know well, is one of the world’s few top-ranking experts on Greek culture who is also a true philhellene – someone who loves Greece but not without reservations. This brilliant “biography” of modern Greece will easily surpass others in the field by Richard Clogg, Thomas Gallant and Stathis Kalyvas. Probably only Kostas Kostis’ very recent History’s Spoiled Children can compare. And why? Because, apart from his extraordinary erudition and scholarship, Beaton writes with measured compassion and a refreshingly straightforward style... I would have preferred more discursive citations; many are to Greek-language sources which haven’t been translated. The lack of a full bibliography suggests, misleadingly, that there is nothing more to be said... Beaton could have given us more on the continuing presence in Greek culture of Turkish elements such as cuisine and rebetika music, and his very brief references to film-makers ignores the seminal work of Theo Angelopoulos. He might have alluded to Vangelis Calotychos’ Modern Greece - a Cultural Poetics (2003) which discusses territory where Beaton doesn’t go.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
6 Apr 2019

"[Beaton] makes clear that Greece belongs to the world rather than just itself. And this is why the country still matters, and probably always will."

[Beaton's] book avoids vulgar questions of genetics and pedantry over Byzantium, instead broadening its scope and building on the understanding that if we are to talk about Greece as it is today we have to talk about a history that often took place far away from where the state is now located... Beaton does a fantastic job of capturing both the spirit of the time and the individual triumphs and failures of those who played a major role in the crucial years that followed the revolution. The war for independence is placed with clarity and purpose in the context of its times and the monumental changes it brought... It is in these later chapters that Beaton’s otherwise evenhanded and objective book starts to falter... It’s in the time the author spends on the 19th and early 20th centuries that he really achieves his object, because there he makes clear that Greece belongs to the world rather than just itself. And this is why the country still matters, and probably always will.