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4.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,287 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
"A devoted and brilliant achievement." The New York Review of Books

In 1948, as civil war ravaged Greece, children were abducted and sent to communist "camps" behind the Iron Curtain. Eleni Gatzoyiannis, 41, defied the traditions of her small village and the terror of the communist insurgents to arrange for the escape of her three daughters and her son, Nicola. For that act
Kindle Edition, 482 pages
Published (first published 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,468)
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Jun 20, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: Nadine
Although there is no shortage of books that describe the personal and familial turmoil that results from civil war, Eleni has to be among the most devastating accounts ever written. Civil war is the nastiest kind of war, a war in which one’s own brethren becomes his enemies. The disjointed sense of loyalty associated with these internal struggles only fuels the chaos. Without that feeling of national unity that would otherwise pervade a conflict against a foreign entity, civil war becomes nothin ...more
Finished: Emotionally, this is a very difficult book to read. So don't read it when you want something light and fluffy! It covers lots of issues. The history of the Greek Civil War is clearly and intimately depicted. Cultural issues such as the role of women versus men in Greek society, religious practices and mystical beliefs/customs are revealed. Abuse - there are many kinds. Is it harder to allow abuse to your own body or to abuse your own child in an effort to prevent someone else from abus ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Dem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every now and again a book comes along that shakes you up and makes you thank god for the life you have lived and trust me this is just one of those books.

I have to admit I have a bad habit of judging a book by its cover and not liking the cover of this book I left it in my bookcase for quite awhile but once I read the blurb on this book(and Goodreads member Chrissie's wonderful review) I knew this was going to be a difficult and harrowing read and yet a deeply inspiring story.

“In 1948 in a Gree
May 04, 2011 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My friend Connie loaned me this amazing book. I was forewarned that it would be heavy.

This is a true story that takes place in Greece during and after World War II.

Nicholas Gage’s mother died to save the lives of her children. When he was nine, he and his sisters moved to the US where his father had lived for many years making only brief visits to their tiny mountain village. Prior to that moment, Nicholas had never seen his father.

Gage is a journalist who wanted to understand what had happened
Jan 04, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book in a small bookstore in Greece. I was on my honeymoon and I had finished all the books I brought with me, so I stumbled onto Eleni by accident. I honestly think I picked it up because I kept making the joke that the actor Nicolas Cage had written it in the bookstore (store owner didn't think it was as funny as I did). I am so glad I found this book, because I couldn't put it down and I learned so much about a period in Greece's history. At a first glance the book seems long ...more
Sep 25, 2009 Gregoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Eleni after reading another book by Nicholas gage, 'A Place for Us.' I knew it would be a hard read, but am very glad I did. I'd heard bits and pieces of stories about the Greek Civil War from my family - about my grandfather walking home to the eastern Peleponnesos from the area around the Albanian border (it's not close at all - at least 250 miles with lots of mountains), about the actions of Communinists and others in the villages. But what I read was incredible, on many levels.

The exp
Dec 21, 2011 Zidane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Greeks and those who wish they were Greek
Honestly, one of my favorite books because it is so relevant to the history of my family. It combines a stellar journalist's account of World War II and the subsequent Greek Civil War with the emotional story of the struggle of his family and his fellow Greeks. An awesome, well-written book that I'm proud to say is one of the few books I've read more than once and plan to read over and over again. If you know nothing about contemporary Greek history, buy it. If the story is more relevant to you ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This truly is one of the most heart-rending, brilliantly written stories to come out of the dawning of the Cold War. The setting is Greece on the heels of World War II and the beginnings of Communism's hold in Eastern Europe. A movement that the villagers initially embraced, but which ultimately drove them to ruin and many to their deaths. The story follows the author's mother who bore the brunt of her family's hardships to ensure their survival and who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their salv ...more
A powerful, vivid and well-researched masterpiece that threads together the historical, cultural and deeply personal story of Eleni Gatzoyiannis, who during the Greek civil war of the late 1940s, was captured, tortured and executed in the village of Lia for attempting to save her children from the grips of communist guerrillas. Eleni’s son Nicola – and the author of this book – who was only nine years old at the time of her death, and three of his sisters did escape and joined their father Chris ...more
Oct 24, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me, this book should be a must-read. It's not the best written, although it is well written; and at times it was difficult to keep the secondary players straight, although the author did an excellent job of reminding you who was who.

But the story of Eleni, a woman executed by her own Greek countrymen during the Civil War right after WWII, is both fascinating and eye opening. Researched and written by her son, an NYT journalist, he brings both their stories alive as he learns who is mother was
Aug 29, 2007 Aimee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with a strong stomach
I had the opportunity to read this book while on vacation in Greece and it kept me inside on the couch rather than outside exploring the village I was in. It was writen by a journalist who aims to clear his mother's name and find those who persecuted her during the war. What he finds out is far from pretty: villagers pitted against eachother, war, famine, death, and torture (at times, nausiatingly descriptive and unbiased). The author offers a stage by stage synopsis of the political and physica ...more
This book is great - but has some real lessons to take to heart, such as:
1. Once you're married, don't allow family to guilt you in to staying with them, rather than your husband.
2. Don't make life altering decisions based on whether or not you think the town will gossip about you.
3. When you have the money and you're in a dangerous situation, prioritize. Safety first!
4. Material goods will never be worth more than your safety or freedom.

Not to give the book away, but it was extremely frustratin
Mar 05, 2010 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book quite a few years ago and was deeply moved by the story. I learned about the civil war in Greece right after WWII and was exposed to the way nobody is safe in a war zone. The mom in this story deserved this tribute written by her son, who returned to Greece to research what happened there and share it with us. His own reaction to learning the details of what his mother did for him and his siblings was conveyed transparently to the reader. All these years later, I remember how I ...more
May 10, 2014 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-stack
Eleni, A most powerful story. This one will pull at you, no it will yank. That's not right either it will throw you to the ground and beat you till you scream out......why?

I put the book down a little more than half way through. I carried it everywhere I went but couldn't open it. You see I was searching for my own truth. It took three and half years for me to get back and finish this sobering story. Nicholas will answer the question for you but I needed to fully understand for myself.

Tears on m
Jun 30, 2009 Raymond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Communist insurgents battled to topple the government of Greece. 1948. People beyond Greece scarcely took note of the struggle at the time and all of it nearly is forgotten today. May, "Eleni," never be forgot. This singular book is so beautiful and so terrifying it must be ranked among the finest writings of the 20th Century in America. Nicholas Gage's tribute to his mother - Eleni - his recounting of the fighting and suffering which attended civil war in Greece needs to have attention called t ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Waterman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book makes Captain Corelli's Mandolin look like a joke! This is the real deal.
Jul 15, 2008 Henry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is the true story of the author's mother and her murder by communists in Greece in 1948. Sad but wonderfully written and very interesting. I both loved and hated this book. The blurb on the back cover says it well.

"In 1948, as civil war ravaged Greece, children were abducted and sent to communist “camps” inside the Iron Curtain. Eleni Gatzoyiannis, forty-one, defied the traditions of her small village and the terror of the communist insurgents to arrange for the escape of her three daughter
Janet Wilcox
Dec 24, 2010 Janet Wilcox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd had more time to read this book quickly, so I could have remembered all the Greek names. However, the story was so stark and tragic, I'll never forget the heroics of this mother and other Greek families and what they suffrered. In later years her young son Nicholas returnes to Greece as an adult to piece together the events leading to Eleni's death. Gage's training as an investigative reporter and foreign correspondent for the New York Times was put to the test in every way, as he tra ...more
Christiana Hadji
Διάβασα αυτό το βιβλίο στα έντεκα μου χρόνια περίπου, και σήμερα απορώ πως σε τέτοια τρυφερή ηλικία μπόρεσα να συλλάβω τα τόσο σοβαρά και δύσκολα μηνύματα του. Η ιστορία της θυσίας της Ελένης για τα παιδιά της χαράκτηκε για πάντα στην μνήμη μου και με ευαισθητοποίησε από μικρή ηλικία σε θέματα κοινωνικής αδικίας και καταπάτησης των ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων. Πριν διαβάσω το βιβλίο είχα την αφελή εντύπωση ότι "οι φασίστες" ήταν πάντα οι κακοί της ιστορίας και "οι αριστεροί" ήταν οι καλοί (ναι, είχα ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember watching the end of the film which was based on this book and although I had missed most of it, it was etched on my memory, especially knowing it was a true story. At the time I was unable to locate a copy of the book and so never knew the complete story. I recently came across a copy of the book and was able to find out the whole story.
The book is quite gruelling and tells the story of a man’s journey to find out how and why his mother was killed. I must admit I know nothing of Moder
Nov 21, 2010 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I know very little about my Greek heritage, with the exception of being fairly well-versed in Greek food, drinking ouzo and dancing in circles. So, this book is important to me because it taught me about Greece during WWII and the subsequent civil war, about which I had previously known nothing. However, Gage's comprehensive historical depiction is overshadowed by his incredibly moving and haunting biography of/homage to his mother. I will never forget the stories in this book.
Jun 01, 2010 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Greek Civil War, and its connection to the larger Cold War, is not a subject most Americans know about, unlike the conflicts in Vietnam or Korea. In addition to being very informative about this period in global history, Eleni is absolutely heartbreaking even though you know how it will end right from the start. Anyone who puts ideology before humanity--on the left or the right--should be required to read this book.
I found myself unable to stop reading this book, even when I felt bogged down in the many, many details of village life, as well as Greece during WWII and the civil war that immediately followed. I think I would have enjoyed a less thorough retelling of this story, but I appreciate that this was, in many ways, the author's life's work and as such I would hate to criticize his significant attention to detail.
إيلانى يتناول هذا الكتاب قصة حقيقية حدثت فى أثناء الحرب العالمية الثانية ومابعدها لأم يونانية ضحت بحياتها لانقاذ اطفالها من عبثية الحرب ، حيث يروى لنا نيكولاس

غاتزويانيس مراسل النيويورك تايمزِ مأساة أمه (إيلاينى) ، ففى أثناء الحرب الأهلية اليونانية مابين( 1946 - 1949 ) بين الجيش الحكومي اليوناني (المدعوم من الولايات المتحدة الامريكية و بريطانيا) وجيش اليونان الديمقراطي الجناح العسكري للحزب الشيوعي اليوناني (المدعوم من بلغاريا ويوغوسلافيا وألبانيا) واشتعلت الحرب الاهلية بين الطرفين نتيجة لصراع الا
Apr 10, 2014 Jimgoodall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to read, not in terms of style or prose but in content. The events surrounding the Greek Civil war at the end of the 1940's are depicted in incredible heart wrending detail and the horrendous tradgedies that unfolded are brought to life by an author who has written from the bottom of his heart.
As well it might, given the book is the story of his mother's murder at the hands of the Greek communist guerrillas in the mountains of northern Greece, bordering on Albania.
The cr
Johann Guenther
Aug 10, 2014 Johann Guenther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
GAGE, Nicholas: „Eleni“, München 2005
Wenn Autoren über ihre Mütter schreiben sind das immer starke Bücher. Nicholas Gage war noch ein kleiner Bub, als er die Kämpfe des Zweiten Weltkrieges und die späteren Bürgerkriege miterlebte. Sein Vater war in Amerika um Geld zu verdienen. Die Mutter – Eleni – musste sich alleine mit den fünf Kindern durchbringen.
Ein für uns Mitteleuropäer unvorstellbares Stück Geschichte tut sich auf. In Griechenland war der Krieg auch 1945 noch nicht zu Ende. Man kämpfte
Dec 23, 2014 Roberta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This work of historical non-fiction should be at the top of every avid reader's 'must read' list. I just happened to recently stumble on it & wish I would've done so sooner.

Most other readers' comments refer in detail to story content, beyond amazing which it is. However I'd like to express my appreciation for the voluminous research which the author painstakingly compiled over several years in order to make this book possible.

In years to come, students of different ethnic cultures may be gi
Dec 05, 2010 Connie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by the son of the main character. What a tribute to his mother, because she was the mother we all hope to be. Also, very informative. I did not know much of the situation in Greece at the time of the war.
Eric Brown
May 07, 2016 Eric Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could only read this book in installments. I am ashamed to admit how little I knew about the atrocities that went on during the Greek Civil war. I guess I was too occupied trying to digest the horrors of WW2 happening at the same time. It's a shame that Greece didn't have Hemmingway, as Spain did, to bring the tragedy of this civil war into the mass consciousness. Thanks to Nicholas Cage, I am now aware of the chilling truth of the cataclysmic events that overcame this wonderful land at this t ...more
Mar 26, 2011 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
A son's search for revenge which changes his life. The author's courageous mother arranges for her childrens escape from communist guerrillas during the Greek Civil War. She ultimately sacrifices her own life. Excellent story.
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Nicholas Gage (born Nikolaos Gatzoyiannis; Greek: Νίκος Γκατζογιάννης) is a Greek-American author and investigative journalist.
Gage started out as an investigative reporter for the New York Times, and later wrote for the Wall Street Journal. His experiences as a reporter were the basis for the television show “The Andros Targets”.
He is most famous for two autobiographical memoirs, the best-selli
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