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Literature

The Greek Revolution: A Critical Dictionary Offers Insights into 1821

March 10, 2021

As the celebration of the bicentennial of Greek Independence continues, many readers are looking for books which can further shed light on the period, its history, and the repercussions of the Revolution even to the present day. A new book, The Greek Revolution: A Critical Dictionary, edited by Paschalis M. Kitromilides and Constantinos Tsoukalas, published by Harvard University Press, offers insights into the history of the Revolution and its far-reaching consequences not only for Greece, but for world history as well.

The Greek War for Independence (1821-1830) often goes missing from discussion of the Age of Revolutions. Yet the rebellion against Ottoman rule was enormously influential in its time, and its resonances are felt across modern history. The Greeks inspired others to throw off the oppression that developed in the backlash to the French Revolution. And Europeans in general were hardly blind to the sight of Christian subjects toppling Muslim rulers. In this collection of essays, Paschalis Kitromilides and Constantinos Tsoukalas bring together scholars writing on the many facets of the Greek Revolution and placing it squarely within the revolutionary age.

An impressive roster of contributors traces the revolution as it unfolded and analyzes its regional and transnational repercussions, including the Romanian and Serbian revolts that spread the spirit of the Greek uprising through the Balkans. The essays also elucidate religious and cultural dimensions of Greek nationalism, including the power of the Orthodox Church. One essay looks at the triumph of the idea of a Greek “homeland,” which bound the Greek diaspora— and its financial contributions— to the revolutionary cause. Another essay examines the Ottoman response, involving a series of reforms to the imperial military and allegiance system. Noted scholars cover major figures of the revolution; events as they were interpreted in the press, art, literature, and music; and the impact of intellectual movements such as philhellenism and the Enlightenment.

Authoritative and accessible, The Greek Revolution confirms the profound political significance and long-lasting cultural legacies of a pivotal event in world history. It is an essential guide to the momentous War for Independence of the Greeks from the Ottoman Empire. The book is also highlighted with color photos and maps to further bring to life the history of the Revolution.

Professor Georgios Varouxakis, Queen Mary University of London, said that the book is “an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the Greek Revolution and its immense consequences on global history.”

Among the contributors to the volume are many well-known scholars from around the world, including Eleni Angelomatis-Tsougarakis, Roderick Beaton, and Gonda Van Steen.

Paschalis M. Kitromilides is author of numerous books, including Enlightenment and Revolution: The Making of Modern Greece. He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Athens and a member of the Academy of Athens. Constantinos Tsoukalas is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Athens. A former president of Greece’s National Centre for Social Research, he has taught all over the world, and between 2016 and 2020 was President of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture.

The Greek Revolution: A Critical Dictionary, edited by Paschalis M. Kitromilides and Constantinos Tsoukalas, published by Harvard University Press, is available online and in bookstores.

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