A stark account of mans’ inhumanity and the power of love
This is an extraordinary book. The tragedy is that it is a story which needed to be told at all. It is a terrible and true account of what happens when ideology (of any persuasion) subsumes our sense of our own and each other’s humanity.
The author’s mother was murdered during the Greek Civil War. The book’s journey is one that starts from anger and the desire to get vengeance and justice for what happened to his mother, from the perpetrators. It is an interesting and educational book about Greece in a particular time and place, and it is also a raw story about how we may have to assimilate and process the unendurable, in others, and in oursleves
Though the events took place in Greece during the German occupation, and afterwards during the Greek civil war, it would be dangerous to assume that there aren’t lessons here for us all, of whatever political, religious or cultural orientation. Although the story is particular to Greece during the Second World War and its aftermath, it is sadly a story which could have been told many times, with reference to different historical and geographical locations.
We keep forgetting how often this story could have been told – how often it is being replayed in different parts of the world today, and how often it may be repeated in the future.
I found myself shaken at the awful story Nicholas Gage had to tell, the terrible events his family experienced, and also so grateful that he did tell this tragic and also wonderful story. Like Wild Swans this is a book which sickens you with the realisation that any one of us, given the right (or wrong) situation might forget our common humanity so easily, and yet also serves as a wonderful testimonial to the existence of something deep, true and heroic in many ordinary people, that enables us sometimes to transcend the ego driven cruel way we can treat each other.
Eleni’s story is stark, tragic and bleak – but also shows the illuminating and transcending power of love, compassion and and truth.The author shows great courage in being honest about his own struggles to come to terms with his mother’s story, and shares something of his love for her and loss of her
The book was later turned into a film, which i have not seen, nor would i want to. It is the immediacy and rawness of this which is instructive to me, not the remove of actors coming between the sobering, shocking reality and the lived experience of the writer/son and his family’s experience