Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book 44 of the 50 Book Challenge

Hostage to History by Christopher Hitchins,  173 pages

Started June 18th, finished June 22nd.

After holidaying in Cyprus I'd heard a few different views on the partition of Cyprus and its causes.  As I'd only been to the Southern part of Cyprus this mainly went along the lines that the Turks suddenly invaded and took the island's wealth.  When discussing this back home it became clear that there was far more to the story than that.  Hence the search for an unbiased book on the subject.  This was no easy job.

First of all I read Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Gerald Durrell.  This gives a good look at Cyprus towards the end of British rule but finishes long before the Turkish invasion.  Rooting around various online booksellers brought me no fruits.  Nothing looked at the lead up to the invasion.  Then, searching for something else entirely, this book popped up.  It seemed to tick all the boxes.  So I oredered it.

The book was first written in 1984, 10 years after the invasion.  It has been updated more than once, the final update in 1997.  Unfortunately this was prior to the Republic of Cyprus being accepted into the EU.  It would be nice to see if that has caused any shifting in policies.  From my untrained eyes I can't see any.

It seems to be an unbiased, well researched look at Cypriot history from the time it was leased, by the Ottoman Empire, to Britain in 1878.  It describes the changes that had gone on throughout this period until 1974.  Filling in enormous gaps in my knowledge. I won't go on and on with my views here but it does make it blatantly clear that 'Turkish and Greek Cypriots were unhappy living together' is an outright distortion of the truth.  Without Greece,  the US and Turkey fiddling in things they had no reason to, whilst the British stood back and let their responsibilities slide Cyprus could have been a happy, strong independent state for the first time in thousands of years.

If you do go to Cyprus take the propaganda with a little touch of salt.  No one group came out of the book with a halo but it seems the people who actually lived on the island suffered greatly because no-one allow them the democracy they wanted.  Mr Kissinger comes out of this book very badly.  I doubt whether EU membership will make much of a difference unless Turkey get any closer to joining.  Visiting the 'Green Line' it isn't nice to see people still hurting because they can't return home.  The UN keeps the peace but could it not have prevented the problem in the first place?

4 out of 5 pawprints

Total so far, Books - 44, pages - 12,882

Next - How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran


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