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Paradise Lost, by Giles Milton

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:15 pm
by Charlie
[quote="Gerry Cordon in the Yasmin Levy thread under Radio 3 programmes"]Smyrna was snuffed out in a single week of mass-murder, rape, looting, pillage and one of the greatest acts of arson in the 20th century. At the end of it, the New York Times ran the headline: “Smyrna wiped out.â€

PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:14 pm
by Neil Foxlee
For those who don't get round to reading the book (in fiction, there's Louis de Bernieres' Birds Without Wings, among others), this Wikipedia article gives the broader picture of the war:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Turk ... %80%931922)

For more general cultural background, there's a fascinating article here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet_(Ottoman_Empire)

As for the title of the book, the publisher must have found the play on Milton's name irresistible; the subtitle, however, could be taken as misleading, insofar as in the end, it was Turkish Muslim forces who destroyed Smyrna as a 'city of tolerance', albeit in response to previous Greek atrocities. And of course the history goes back even further, as the Wikipedia articles on Greece-Turkey relations show.

Other formerly cosmopolitan cities in the Mediterranean would include Alexandria and Beirut. As far as Turkey is concerned, it wasn't just nation-building on the Western model that was involved, it was also modernization on the Western model. The reverberations are still being felt today (in Turkey's attempts to join the EU). And the same gulf between Westernized cities and traditional country that can be found eg in Iran.

The link to Gerry's piece on Smyrna is here: http://wp.me/poJrg-AV .