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Historical Observations: My Life as a Historian

October 18, 2020

I always asked myself “why did I choose to become a historian?” Was it an accident? or was it planned?

I became interested in history because we human beings never learn the lessons of the past and repeat them ad nauseam. My presentation will describe my early years, university years, and professional career on my journey to becoming a historian.

EARLY YEARS

Growing up as a young child in Melbourne, I recall my parents discussing Greek history and politics at home. My parents said that the Egyptians threw Armenians out of window balconies onto the streets below in Cairo. No dates were ever given as far as I can remember. I didn't take any notice of it at the time. It simply went right over my head.

I attended Greek school to learn the Greek language, history, and culture. The teacher was boring in how she taught us history and culture. I was somewhat fascinated with the Greek war of independence of 1821-30 and learning about our Greek heroes defeating the Turks. The history seed was planted in my mind which remained dormant for many years. It needed something to ignite it.

UNIVERSITY YEARS:

The seed sprouted with the subject Crisis Diplomacy 1815-1914 during my undergraduate years at Deakin University. It was week 5 or 6 when I studied the Greek war of independence that sparked my curiosity into modern Greek history in 1982. The historical fuse was finally lit. I asked Professor Bill Rubenstein at the time about becoming an academic. "Enrol in our BA (Hons) program when you finish your BA," he said.

I took his advice and enrolled in the BA (Hons) degree program at Deakin University in 1986. My interest in modern Greek history was further strengthened when I wrote a 20,000-word dissertation titled: Anglo-Greek relations, 1918-22. This thesis was the stepping stone into the MA degree at RMIT University in 1993.

I completed a 70,000-word thesis on the Greek-Turkish war, 1919-23 through the eyes of two Melbourne newspapers: The Age and Argus. I was conferred with my MA in 1999. The Dean of our school sent me a letter complimenting me for my thesis and its contribution to the research profile of the Department of Intercultural and Language Studies.

PROFESSIONAL YEARS:

My Master's thesis was published with minor revisions as a book by Gorgias Press in the United States in 2008. The other published book deals with the Assyrians through official Australian documents. So far, I have published two books along with five contributing book chapters.

My forthcoming book titled Tales from the Last Days of Anatolia will be released soon. It is a collection of fictional short stories based on real events in the dying years of the Ottoman Empire. Some 12 months ago, I decided to change direction from writing political/diplomatic history to historical fiction. I thought this was a better approach to allow fictional characters to describe actual historical events through their own eyes. It is also an experiment on the road to writing a historical novel soon.

I have written articles that have been published in refereed journals and also work as a freelance writer for the Greek-American newspaper, The National Herald in New York. This publication has given an outlet for my voluminous newspaper articles over the years. I have also presented conference papers and given public lectures both in Australia and the United States.

CONCLUSION:

Putting it all together from my childhood years to the present, my ilfe is one of educating people about the importance of history. We need to heed the lessons of the past, otherwise as we shall repeat them

 

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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