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Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  19 reviews

We think we know ancient Greece, the civilisation that shares the same name and gave us just about everything that defines 'western' culture today, in the arts, sciences, social sciences and politics. Yet, as Greece has been brought under repeated scrutiny during the financial crises that have convulsed the country since 2010, worldwide co
Hardcover, 462 pages
Published March 7th 2019 by Allen Lane
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Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation, by Roderick Beaton, is a concise account of Greece's history from the stirrings of Greek nationalism, to the modern financial crisis. Greece as a nation is a modern concept, as Beaton points out. Ancient Greece was a collection of states and polities (Athens, Sparta, Corinth etc.) that stretched from Greece's modern borders, throughout the Mediterranean. Greek speaking peoples colonized parts of Italy, Turkey, the Levant and so on. The only times the modern ...more
Klara Sjo
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I have some issues with this book, but I'm uncertain whether it is because it is not the book I want to read, or if it is the book.

First of all, I'm not sure what a "biography of a nation" means, but this is a political history of Modern Greece.

Almost the whole book is a story about politicians, their politics and the results thereof. So there is a lot of names, some known, and some not so known. My problem with this is that things are only seen top-down - and often just on the top and no down
Philip Husbands
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This elegantly written book is essential reading for those who wish to understand the forces that created, influenced and continue to influence the modern Greek state. I read the Kindle version of this book while visiting Greece and have never made so many highlights and notes on a history book!

The author's purpose is to take the reader from the first ground swell of Greek nationalism to Greece in 2018. This book achieves this with a fantastically written narrative free from digressions.

I have
James Miller
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not so much a page turner as a thorough and informative account of Greece from Ottoman occupation to today and with more wide-reaching thoughts about what Greece is: nation, state or nation-state?
I learnt masses from this.
Athan Tolis
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, favorites
Year 2021 will mark 200 years since my country declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire. I’ll be very surprised if between now and then (or, indeed, ever!) anybody manages to produce a finer tribute to modern Greece than this concise, loving and balanced account.

In what must be the shortest 400 pages I’ve read in a long time, professor Roderick Beaton takes you from the first stirrings of independence all the way to the farce / tragedy of the current crisis, always with an eye to both w
Ioannis Touras
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great book for the modern reader of history, for international readers and for all Greeks in the world. It made me laugh, cry and ponder on the history of Greece as modern nation. 200 years of the nation's life next year, and so many things that are still going on that can link to the past. For a time of self-reflection and identity crisis, in the now post economic crisis world, the book is a good point to finally ask the questions that we the Greeks have not asked before. I didn't agree with ...more
This was an interesting piece covering Greece from the early 1700s until 2018, but unfortunately the author describes the events in an excessively general way for me to get an adequate sense of how the people in the various time periods actually felt. Instead I was primarily given impressions of a few leading figures and some historians in a (mostly) post-hoc fashion which is largely unreliable. I am sure that this was a deliberate choice by the author as he attempts to cover a very large time p ...more
Stephen Morrissey
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roderick Beaton brings to life the modern history of Greece in a thorough, workmanlike manner in this so-called biography of the modern nation-state. From its independence movement in 1821 through continuing, and often bloody, conflicts with the Ottoman Empire/Turkey and "Western" Europe/the EU, Greece became a forerunner of the national independence movements that were unleashed after the fall of the empires in 1918.

Beaton performs well in charting the kaleidoscopic political permutations of th
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Een interessant boek. Geeft een goed idee over hoe het in Griekenland gekomen is tot wat het nu is. Het gaat over de Griekse staat, die 200 jaar geleden tot stand kwam. Voor die tijd behoorde Griekenland tot het Ottomaanse Rijk en nog daarvoor was het een verzameling van kleine stadstaten. Dat laatste is misschien wat kort door de bocht, maar in ieder geval bestaat het koninkrijk of de republiek Griekenland pas 200 jaar. De vraag was (en is nog) steeds: is Griekenland voor alle Grieken (of Helle ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a review in the WSJ on this book and was immediately intrigued, given I'm a first generation Greek American. I've heard countless stories from my parents and relatives about Greece.

The book is certainly not light reading material, but none the less I wanted to know how much I'd heard over the years matched what a scholar with vast research behind him would have to say about my families homeland.

I have to say for the most part what I'd heard was all familiar. The book certainly added to
Fiona Zakka
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finishing reading Greece : Biography of a Nation I am richer in knowledge for having read it. Being Greek and living in Greece during the last years has made us feel the need to learn our history again. Beaton’s concise book has given me a new look to our nations history. What I mean is that although we’ve been taught Greek history in school this book puts things in perspective with what was happening globally at the same time , along with hindsight very informing, something not really done in o ...more
Zulu Fox
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful. For a reader like me who has no prior knowledge of Greece and no background in Hellenic studies, Beaton's book was exactly what I was looking for. Academic but still very accessible; packed with information but very readable and seldom dry; even-handed but doesn't shy away from passing judgement - I loved it.

I especially enjoyed how Beaton took the time to explain some of the historiography that surrounds various episodes he narrates, and how he at times entertains counter
Dionysi Krinas
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, greek
This book essentially looks at the last 200 years of Greek history and points out that the Greeks were the pioneers who first mapped out the route that would lead from the old Europe of great empires to the Europe of nation states that we know today.

The book looks at the key political leaders throughout the history of the last 200 years who have influenced the country and the impact of their policies. Clear, concise and easy to read this not only taught me a few new things about modern Greece bu
Nicholas Theodoropoulos
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An extremely detailed and well-researched biography that remains engaging throughout. The historical complexities and various characters presented are done so in a manner that never leaves you feeling confused or overly academic. Its pure brilliance is that it will appeal to someone who has no direct interest in the topic but rather a general interest in socio-political structures and European history.
Aris Catsambas
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well written history of modern Greece. The only reason it doesn't get five stars is that it focused slightly too much on global geo-politics, and Greece's diplomatic relations, and slightly too little on the evolution of the Greek economy, its institutions etc.

Nevertheless, a must-read for Greeks, given how at school we are taught a one-sided view of our history.
Gary Rigby
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book and highly recommended for anyone interested in Greece, Greek culture and identitiy or in European culture and history more generally. Written with a wonderful lightness of touch, Roderick Beaton's prose makes this book as enjoyable as it is informative.
Themistoklis Sardis
Excellent book, presenting the 200 year history of modern Greece in an accessible, pleasant and un-biased way.

My only complaint is that it feels that it could have been longer. Many chapters left me wanting more details and more information.

Highly recommended.
Ferenc Laczo
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
An accessible and sober depiction of modern Greek history. Fairly conventional in its approach - mostly high politics, IR, high culture - with little on social history. Detailed and not too quick paced. The parts on the 19th century I found more illuminating.
Amicus (David Barnett)
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting review off two hundred years of modern independent Greece's story.
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