[LMB] mostly OT: Turkey (and a very Milesian bit of Turkish history)

Robert Hall rzilch.hall at gmail.com
Mon Sep 12 14:20:39 BST 2011


On Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 10:07 PM, Tel <teldreaming at gmail.com> wrote:

>
> There's an interesting story involving the giant post-WWI mess between
> Greece and Turkey (not the finest moment for either), involving one of
> the Great Short Guys of History, Asa Jennings, who was a YMCA
> secretary from Utica left to mind the shop in Smyrna/Izmir right
> before the Turks showed up and the city burned down. Not very
> physically imposing - 5'3"ish, somewhat hunchbacked, with
> tuberculosis. Vast numbers of Greek/Christian refugees were trapped in
> the city with a nasty fate awaiting them. Jennings was pretty upset
> with this and somehow wangled an audience with Ataturk by being
> extremely persistent and extracted from him permission to evacuate the
> (non-fighting-age-male) refugees...
>

A bit of tangent-going-off-at from this thread: I can (mostly) recommend the
novel "Birds Without Wings" by Louis de Bernieres, author of "Captain
Corelli's Mandolin" -- the latter part of "BWW" (not a short book) being
about the abovementioned early-1920s situation, and the departure, in one
way or another, of Turkey's Greek inhabitants. Not wishing  to spoil or give
things away: will just mention that "BWW" (though not in any way that I
remember, featuring Asa Jennings) tells of a very-relatively benign side, of
an overall nasty episode in history.

The novel is "long and leisurely" -- the author does things in a different,
less tightly-knit, way from LMB -- starts off, many years before the
culminating events of the end of "the Greeks in Turkey". The first half or
so, got for me a little tedious; maybe I'm a bit of a horrid blood-and-guts
lover -- the book started to grip me a good deal more, when things got
interestingly unpleasant from the start of WWI onwards. Different opinions
heard from other people, who loved the book throughout. IMO De Bernieres
writes well, "whatever" -- I'd say that the book is at any rate worth a look
at.



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