Posted on Thursday, December 21st, 2006 at 10:32 am under Nonfiction

Title:Salonica, city of ghosts: Christians, Muslims, and Jews, 1430-1950
Author:Mark Mazower

Why I liked this book: The city now known as Thessaloniki, Greece has had a remarkable history. Situated very strategically, on the eastern shore of the Balkan peninsula, the city was a crossroads for Greek, eastern Mediterranean, Turkish, Albanian, and Slavic peoples. It also became a major destination for Jews expelled from western Europe at the end of the 15th century. The interrelationships among these groups were complex, but often in surprising ways. Religion was clearly a recurring issue, but toleration was more common than not. Business interests often exerted a stronger influence than ethnic or religious ones – until the German occupation of the 1940s.

This book takes the story of the city from the time it began to become an important port, through the centuries of Ottoman rule, the Greek-Turkish partition which brought the Greeks to power, and to the atrocities of the second world war. It is a vast story, but one that illustrates very well some of the major forces at work in modern history. In addition to the broad picture, the narrative includes personal histories that show how the great forces play out in the lives of individuals. 490 p.

In Crumb Library at DF951.T45 M39 2006

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