Columbia University history professor Mazower narrates the history of Greece’s 1821 war of independence against the Ottoman Empire and its inauguration of a new era of nation-states that ushered in the modern world.
... a rich, illuminating, and imposing history of that paradigm-shifting conflict. Like characters in a Homeric epic, the players in Greece’s war emerge, in Mazower’s telling, in an apparently orderly fashion. An expert storyteller, Mazower unravels a Gordian knot of local, regional, and international factionalisms ... The book deftly weaves in the broader international context[.]
Mark Mazower has turned the tables and shown, with consummate skill and attention to all the available Greek and international sources, that the Greek Revolution was indeed foundational for the 'making of modern Europe' ... Mazower tells the story as it always needed to be told ... Mazower can add the hindsight of two whole centuries, along with much documentary evidence that has come to light during the intervening years, to supplement the often oral testimonies that Finlay was able to draw on. This is the material that Mazower has combed and sifted, to bring vividly to life a kaleidoscope of harrowing, touching, telling detail, much of it never accessible in English before ... But the path from warlord to revolutionary was a long one, and Mazower unflinchingly charts the many deviations that can make the story of the Greek Revolution, in its fine-grained detail, such depressing reading ... the best and fullest explanation, to date, for a series of events whose effects would change the entire geopolitics of Europe. Written with compassion and understanding for the human cost of that achievement, it deserves to remain the standard treatment of the subject in English for many decades to come.
... represents the perfect union of these two poles of his career — a largely internationalist history of what is often seen as a local even ... With a pulsating narrative — dizzying for some perhaps, not enough for others — Mazower’s book sends us scrambling up mountain ascents, slogging down into the valleys and paddling onto craggy island coasts as Greeks of all stripes, mercenaries and commoners, nuns and priests, fought for 'freedom or death' against a depleted Ottoman Army ... This thick book is a long journey, rich with social history and the luminaries of the age. It is hard to imagine it being surpassed any time soon as the definitive English-language account of the Greek Revolution ... Still, it leaves much unsaid. Offering a history of the Greek Revolution without a deep accounting of the Ottoman imperial system — its role in producing the revolution and its reactions to it — is a significant omission (and never mind the fact that many Greeks remained in the Ottoman Empire after Greek independence). In Mazower’s story, as in so many others of the Greek Revolution, the Ottoman Turks appear one-dimensional, presented mostly as perpetrators. To be sure, Mazower is attentive enough to occasionally show them as victims too. But along with the Greeks, Albanians, Arabs, Serbs and many others, the Turks were major creators of a system that produced centuries of intercultural coexistence ... In the end, The Greek Revolution causes us to think more deeply about the role of the nation-state in a global context.