Saturday, October 30, 2004

Phoenix With A Bayonet

I was taking a long, lonely walk downtown the other day and happened to stumble onto the tiny bookshelf labelled "Eastern Europe" covering Greece in Strand's Bookstore , and happily came across a dusty, yellowed copy of Phoenix with a Bayonet: A Journalist's Interim Report on the Greek Revolution
by Bayard Stockton , on sale for fifteen dollars.

The book jacket sidebar promised a refreshingly positive look at Greek dictator Papadopoulos and the Greek Revolution of April 21 , 1967 , the blurb heralds Stockton's thesis that "the Colonels made mistakes...but they also enjoy the support of the Greek people who would, Stockton suggests, return the Papadopoulos regime to power if elections came tomorrow"

Mind you this book was written in 1970 , years before the 1973 Ioanides debacle over the Polytechnic University riot,martial law, the ousting of Papadopoulos and the Cyprus Tragedy of 1974, which has ever since become the classic propaganda leverage justifying the leftist counter-coup by the anti-Nationalist forces currently ruling Greece.

In 1984, an imprisoned and defeated Papadopoulos did have a nominal chance to be re-elected through democratic means of his short-lived political party that managed to get just under three percent of the vote...that percentage seems to have also become a syndrome of Nationalist parties in Greek general elections for the past twenty years or so.

On the whole the book is a difficult read, because of the writer's lack of any prose style whatsoever and the tedious poverty in word selection and constant repetition. Some interesting information could come from reading this book...details of the hard-line Nationalist contingent,led by Secretary-General Ladas, within the Revolution, pushing for a more militant line against Turkey. Some details on the blossoming of the Revolutionary youth organization Alkimi, "the Valiant" that by the summer of 1970 included some 22,000 members from primary and secondary schools. The authour claims to have witnessed a mass oath taking ceremony in Karaskaiki stadium, during which youth swore to uphold "Greek and Orthodox Christian Orthodoxy". The authour details how the Revolution also ousted scores of Marxist and liberal professors from academia and renewed emphasis on purified modern Greek or Katharevousa in the academy and in elementary schooling.

The book's photographs include several poses that the Leadership of the Revolution had taken alongside church leaders and public addresses to literally throngs of Greek people alongside the ,then , Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Hieronymous.

The books also makes mention of a strict morality code passed on to high schools by the Leadership that called for enforcement of:

1) Prohibitions on girls riding bicycles to school and showing too much leg.
2) Slacks and high or mini-skirts , even on week-ends.
3) Compulsory church attendance on Sundays
4) Compulsory greeting of teachers in the streets, even though the instructors can ignore the pupils.
5) Rigid enforcement of standard hair styles; long hair on boys brings an automatic five day suspension from school and indiscriminate kicks and slaps in the presence of other students.

The various conspiracies by Makarios and the King are worked over rigorously and are quite tiring to go over, as is the planning and implementation of the coup itself. Whose one redeeming quality was that it caught the Americans and indeed the entire world unawares. The authour actually reiterates what many analysts have said about the Greek Revolution of April 21, 1967--there is no evidence that it was planned or approved by the United States.

The vast public works projects undertaken by the Leadership included new petro-chemical refineries and ship building yards as well as some minor business dealings with the Soviet Union , after all , business is business.

I have yet to finish Phoenix With A Bayonet, due to its unattractive writing style . If I ever do finish it, I plan to write a more detailed review and perhaps compare and contrast it with Taki Theodoracopoulos's vastly superior english language book on the Greek Revolution of April 21, 1967, titled, The Greek Upheaval, written in the late 1970s and ,sadly, out of print and very hard to find.


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