Author: Bob Fowke and Andrew Mee

Publisher: YouCaxton Publications

The depth and variety of Greece is captured in Bob Fowke and Andrew Mee’s Guide to Greece for History Travellers in a way that might surprise certain tourists, who only know of the country as an ideal place for island-hopping and holidaying. Ranging from their description of “mountains ... where bears and wolves still roam” to the mysteries and perils survived by this diverse nation over the centuries, the multifaceted nature of Greece comes alive in these pages. History-filled the guide well is, as is only fitting for a description of “the oldest culture in Europe for which there are written records” (although, in addition, being interspersed with handy maps and tips for tourists), and it is exactly this history that Fowke and Mee so succinctly describe in their travel guide for history lovers. But don’t get me wrong, this work is so masterful in its overview that it should capture the attention of any tourist who has the vaguest inkling of an interest in how Greece has come to be what it is today, Euro crisis and all—this work is a far cry from stuffy academic writings that have you yawning from the second page.

From “Hellen or Helen”, set in “the ancient past”, through to “Peace and quiet ... for a while” (the latter all too true, I’m afraid, seeing the country’s present state of economic turmoil), Fowke and Mee take their readers through a myriad of battles and mutilations with a characteristic light touch, which, nevertheless, is informed, cogent and witty. Although this is not a text that is totally hidebound by dates, the authors concerned, nevertheless, provide a handly timeline for each chapter, so that you have a rough idea of the timespan that they are about to (un)cover in said portion of the text.

Their delightful scattering of line drawings throughout express their somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach to their subject, which ranges from irreverant to (fringing on the) reverant in turn. Despite having a great deal of respect for their subject (after all, they acknowledge that “If you’re a European, you probably think of [Greece] as the birthplace of much of your own culture and of many of your national institutions, in particular of democracy”—mind you, many of those of us who herald from the New World are just as embedded, historically speaking, within such an ethos), Fowke and Mee’s sane grasp on the subtleties of national fervor and despair brings to light the major movements of the Greek nation in a simple, yet holistic way, that should delight their many followers who have already revelled in the other books in this series, namely France, Turkey and Spain, all, of course, being “Guides for History Travellers.”

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