“Civil and Uncivil Wars combines a compelling coming-of-age story with an absorbing memoir of a corner of Europe caught up in the most destructive war ever fought. It is as gripping as the best novels and as powerful as the finest works of history.”
Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy
The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced
“A discerning historian, Nicholas Rizopoulos has written an intimate and moving memoir of growing up in an upscale neighborhood of Athens in the midst of family crises, war, enemy occupation, and national upheaval. It is a story of self-discovery and perseverance that offers fascinating insights into life and society in wartime and post-liberation Greece.”
—John O. Iatrides
Southern Connecticut State University
“A wonderfully evocative account of growing up in Athens in a time of dictatorship, war, and revolution, all sensitively observed through the eyes of a boy who later pursued a distinguished academic career in the United States. This is a book not only for those who already know Greece but for those who will come to know it through this beautifully written memoir.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Greece
Published in: 2014
Hard Cover • 288 pages
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Less extreme than the wartime experiences of J. G. Ballard or Jerzy Kosinski but in the same vivid tradition, Civil and Uncivil Wars is a profound, touching, occasionally disconcerting,unfailingly candid, and consistently engaging reminder that the full measure of war and domestic unrest cannot be appreciated without the telling insights of the young.
As the bloody European war intensified across the continent, Greece, with Athens as its epicenter, was embroiled in the complexities of civil war with rightists, centrists, resisters, collaborators, moderate leftists, and Communists actively vying for local dominance when the German occupation began in 1941 and surreptitiously afterward. Against this tense and shifting backdrop, Nicholas Rizopoulos—decades later a discerning historian of European diplomacy—came of age, a challenging enough proposition in times of peace but that much more poignant and unpredictable during war.
Greek to the core, the author's family was rooted in the complex cultural life of northern Greece—Macedonia and Thessaly, the fading Ottomans, the ghosts of the Balkan wars, and the re-ascendant Greek polity following the First World War. Athens became their stage, and the narrative beautifully captures the author's formative transition from his early childhood in pre-war Greece though his schoolboy years in an occupied and oftentimes menacing city. Lively and intimate, reflective and concrete, Civil and Uncivil Wars is both a boy's eye view of growing up in a complex family and a mature scholar's subtle insights into the larger context that had shaped his own life without his knowing it at the time.