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An intimate trek into the venal world of art looting and selling.

A Greek Cypriot refugee in the Netherlands chronicles her fierce determination to return stolen artifacts to her country through years of dangerous underworld operations.

Having fled her hometown of Famagusta, Cyprus, at age 14 with her family when the Turkish military invaded the country in 1974, Hadjitofi relocated to The Hague and became, in her early 20s, a businesswoman and honorary consul to her country. While there, she was approached by a Dutch art dealer with a special interest in Byzantine icons and religious paintings, many looted shamelessly from the hundreds of ancient churches located in the occupied area of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion. In this detailed narrative, rendered in occasionally stilted English, the author moves back and forth in time to give a sense of her life in Cyprus before the invasion among her intensely pious Christian community, and she shows how crucial to their religion these icons were. She re-creates the time she was first approached by the dealer, Michel Van Rijn, in 1988; he held out to her tantalizing possibilities of retrieving many sacred icons from Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish dealer with whom he maintained shadowy dealings. In return, she and her country would have to come up with staggering amounts of money. Over more than 10 years, Hadjitofi managed to use the highly volatile Van Rijn to get at Dikmen through an extensive undercover sting operation. Her adventures took her to Munich and London and Cyprus, and she effectively kept the police at bay to lure Dikmen into the trap and the ultimate discovery of priceless artifacts. The author’s work is also a personal memoir, not only of her life in Cyprus, but also of her struggles as a young woman trying to start a family and maintain her IT business, Octagon. Her journey is endearing, and she brings the plight of the Cypriots into sharper focus.

An intimate trek into the venal world of art looting and selling.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-323-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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