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Reviews 105 For instance, the lack of maps and plans is a serious omission for a book that deals with military operations; names of persons are often mentioned with only their last names; though the use of German and British documents is excellent, Greek documents have been used very little; moreover, several of the protagonists and many of the participants are still alive, and their papers and reminiscences could have illuminated a number of obscure issues. However, despite these omissions, Professor Hondros' book is one ofthe best on this topic. E. P. PANAGOPOULOS San Jose State University Robert McDonald. Pillar and Tinderbox: The Greek Press and the Dictatorship . New York: Marion Boyars, 1983. Pp. 240. $25.00. Robert McDonald's account of Greek press censorship during the Colonels' 1967-1974 dictatorship provides as instructive an introduction in English to the political history of that period as may be available anywhere in such short compass. The efforts of the Colonels to deal with the press are particularly revealing, displaying as they do both the aspirations and the shortcomings of their somewhat old-fashioned and yet curiously cynical regime. Thus, Mr. McDonald explains (9): A regime's relations with the press . . . are an excellent symptom of its essential nature and, in the case of the colonels, the evolution of their attitudes closely mirrored their approach to society at large. In the beginning they were absolute, rigorously stifling all dissent and dictating the news. Later they tried to present a semblance of legality while maintaining control through covert, coercive means. Always, the aim ofthe Revolution was to create a guided political life, never to restore full democracy as was perpetually promised. How the military regime saw the press, not without some justification , is suggested by the following observation (30): The colonels mistrusted the press and were afraid of it. They had an image of publishers as ruthless, unscrupulous press barons prepared to do or to say anything to turn a profit and they believed newspapers to be manipulative instruments irresponsibly influencing public life from behind the scenes. 106 Reviews The title for his book is taken by Mr. McDonald from a comment on the press by the Colonels' most gifted "professional progagandist" (2, 36): The problem of the press is one of the most acute problems facing the free world. Press freedom is a great blessing and the pillar ofthe democratic way of life, but it can become a tinderbox threatening its own foundations if and when it degenerates into licence or becomes a means to serve obscure interests. This comment is offset by Mr. McDonald with a line attributed to Aesop, "A liar will not be believed even when he speaks the truth" (2). The first part (13-91) of Mr. McDonald's book describes the relations of regime and press primarily in terms of personalities and episodes; the second part (93-176) describes various technical features of Greek press law and of the economics of Greek publishing (this part is supplemented by censorship regulations collected in the appendices [209-226]); the third part (177-208) indicates the circumstances ofthe press since the fall ofthe Colonels, circumstances which include the development of television and a shift of the press from personal to corporate ownership (and hence something of a shift from journalistic adventurism to more staid management). Always important for the standing and operations of the Greek press have been distortions due to the constant awareness on the part of barely solvent publishers that "State advertising contributes up to a quarter of newspapers' advertising revenues." (See 129, 131, 142-143, 179, 192f, 207.) All this is presented from the perspective of a working journalist . (Mr. McDonald served, during the years ofthe Colonels, as the correspondent in Athens to the BBC). I know of no one who worked as a journalist in Greece during those years more qualified than is Mr. McDonald to tell this story: few foreign correspondents have had the experience he had in Greece; and Greek journalists are not temperamentally suited to provide the objectivity needed. Journalism, among the Greeks, has long been very much a partisan activity, so much that the press contributed significantly to the excitation ofthe passions...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 105-110
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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