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Literature

Dr. Katerina Lagos Discusses Latest Book, The Greek Military Dictatorship

The Greek Military Dictatorship: Revisiting a Troubled Past, 1967-1974, edited by Othon Anastasakis and Katerina Lagos, offers insights into this pivotal time period in Greek history. The well-researched volume features chapters by highly-regarded scholars, including the editors, Anastasakis, the Director of South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) and Senior Research Fellow at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and Lagos, Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) and the Director of the CSUS Hellenic Studies Program and Hellenic Studies Center. The late historian and professor Dr. Andre Gerolymatos, who held the Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia Chair in Hellenic Studies and served as director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University, also contributed to the book before his untimely passing.

Dr. Lagos spoke with The National Herald about the book, what she learned in the process of writing and editing the volume, and what she is working on next.

TNH: How long did the book take from idea to publication?

Prof. Katerina Lagos: The book took three and a half years to complete. The idea for the book came at the end of a conference I organized in April 2017 and was submitted for publication by the beginning of June 2021. The first copies of the book were printed in September 2021.

TNH: What made you decide to write about The Greek Military Dictatorship at this time?

KL: The book was the product of a conference I had organized at Sacramento State University on the junta dictatorship on April 21, 2017. This was the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état and the presentations at the conference brought to mind how many topics have not been explored regarding the regime. Between economics, church affairs, and education, these topics deserved greater attention and contribute to our knowledge of the regime.

TNH: What was the most challenging aspect of writing/editing the book?

KL: One of our contributors, Dr. Andre Gerolymatos, was ill during this period and passed away in the spring of 2021. His chapter on The Greek Army in Politics, 1909-67, was the springboard for the book. I had to undertake the final copy editing of his chapter, as Andre was too ill to make any revisions to his chapter. Although the editing was more for style and grammar, it was a daunting task. Andre’s wife, Beverly, was incredibly supportive and approved of all the editorial revisions that I made. I was very fortunate that Beverly was willing to work with me at a time that Andre was declining. As a result, Othon and I decided to dedicate the book to Andre.

TNH: What was the most surprising thing you learned in the process?

KL: The theme of the book focused on “continuities and ruptures” and we were a bit surprised with the amount of continuity that existed between the dictatorship and the postwar period. Drs. Andre Kakridis and Nicholas Kalogerakos each wrote excellent chapters on the economy- both domestic economic policies and international investment in Greece- that underscore the degree of continuity that existed. A large section of the book focuses on foreign policy as well. While not entirely surprising, Othon and I found the willingness of the European and American governments to maintain trade relations with the dictatorship a bit cynical, as the respective governments sacrificed human rights and democratic values on the altar of “business as usual.”

TNH: What are you working on next?

KL: Currently, I am completing a book on the Metaxas dictatorship and Greek Jewry, 1936-1941. This was my Doctorate of Philosophy thesis at Oxford University and a project long in the making. Very little has been written about Metaxas and I find that there are many presumptions and stereotypes that dominate our perspective of this interwar dictator. Additionally, readers will be surprised to read about his treatment of the Jewish communities in Greece. Contrary to what many might assume, Metaxas created a safe haven for the Jews and offered them protection from persecution. This is an important chapter in modern Greek history and deserves to be told.

The Greek Military Dictatorship: Revisiting a Troubled Past, 1967-1974, edited by Othon Anastasakis and Katerina Lagos, is available online.

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