Book Review: “Civil and Uncivil Wars: Memories of a Greek Childhood, 1936-1950”

I’m aiming to write more short book “reviews” (really they’ll be so short they don’t deserve the name, hence the quotes). I’ve done a better job at logging the books I’ve read over the last few months, but this is a logical next step.

Civil and Uncivil Wars: Memories of a Greek Childhood, 1936-1950 by Nicholas X. Rizopoulos contextualizes the author’s days as a toddler, child, and teenager amidst the backdrop of the Second World War, the Greek Civil War, and the birth pangs of the post-WWII world (the Marshall Plan, the Cold War etc). In that sense, it serves as both a partial autobiography/memoir and a partial primer on Greek history during these time periods.

I found Civil and Uncivil Wars particularly engaging because, full disclosure, I actually studied under the author at Adelphi University. Professor Rizopolous supervised the writing of my senior thesis at the Honors College. He was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. I didn’t know he was also one of the strongest until after I read his book.

I won’t give away too many spoilers but the author had a grim series of tragedies befell him — and all before he started college. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to handle all that, especially under some of the circumstances. Your heart will break for him, especially towards the end.

The writing was clean and easy to get through. I finished this book in about a week. If you’re a fan of European history or of personal memoirs, pick this up!