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: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?