A deeply researched life of a man at the crossroads of history.



Biography of a defiant journalist who worked tirelessly for the cause of Greek democracy.

Barron, founding advisory board member of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, draws on numerous sources—archives, oral histories, presidential libraries, government documents, legal cases, and broadcast transcripts—to create an overwhelmingly detailed biography of Greek journalist and activist Elias Demetracopoulos (1928-2016). Growing up in war-torn Greece, Demetracopoulos joined the resistance; at age 14, he was incarcerated and tortured by Nazi occupiers. Recognizing the impact that journalists made on shaping public opinion, Demetracopoulos was determined to join their ranks. By the time he was 21, he had gained a position on “the most prestigious and influential paper in Greece,” which gave him access to powerful Greeks and the many Americans who had come to help shape Greece’s economic and political future. Eager to go abroad, Demetracopoulos arrived in the U.S. in 1951 to report for his home paper. He carried with him 24 “letters of introduction to high-ranking officials,” and he quickly came to the attention of the CIA, which offered him a part-time job sharing intelligence. He declined, returning to Greece, where he once again found himself roiled in politics when a military junta came to power in 1967. Barely escaping, he made his way to the U.S., where his outspoken opposition to the junta made him a subject of intense interest to the CIA, FBI, and State Department for the rest of his career. Barron offers an evenhanded portrait of a complex man: Detractors called him egotistical, self-aggrandizing, and narcissistic; admirers praised him as “a highly intelligent, well-informed man of influence, generous in doing favors, and a loyal friend.” Tireless and bold, he cultivated a network of sources who afforded him a close view of political intrigue; Barron gives ample evidence of the tangled machinations that characterized American policy toward Greece from Truman to Reagan.

A deeply researched life of a man at the crossroads of history.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61219-828-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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