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  • The United States and the Making of Modern Greece: History and Power: 1950–1974
  • Stan Draenos
James Miller . The United States and the Making of Modern Greece: History and Power: 1950–1974. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 2009. Pp. xiii + 301. Hardback $36.00.

"The fate of Greece is so intertwined with American policies," Andreas Papandreou remarked in 1973 during his Toronto exile, "that it is very hard to know what is Greek and what is American in Greek developments." American historian James Miller has taken on the task of sorting out that issue. His book is largely a history of the complex Greek-U.S. dependency relationship that was cemented in the aftermath of U.S. intervention during the Greek Civil War and took a dramatic turn with the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus that triggered the fall of the 1967 Greek military junta and Greece's peaceful return to democracy. Miller "attempts, in the first place, to get the facts right: what happened, when it happened, and why it happened through a careful reading of available primary source material" (p. x).

Miller would seem uniquely qualified for this task. In 1981, he had "the serendipitous opportunity to be the first American historian to review U.S. State Department files and to write a paper discussing the events of 1964–67" (p. xii). His close relationship with this vital and, at that point, still classified documentary material continued in 1991, when the State Department chose him to select, edit, and prepare for publication its long-awaited 2002 document release, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS): 1964–68, Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, vol. XVI (Washingrton, D.C.: Department of State).

On a variety of fronts, however, problems quickly crop up in Miller's narration, beginning with his seeming inability to "get the facts right," particularly on the events leading up to the 1967 military coup which, presumably, is his specialty. Careless errors on issues of common knowledge to those familiar with the period riddle his narrative. To name but a few: Greek judge Stylianos Mavromichalis, not "economist John Paraskevopoulos" (p. 83), was appointed Prime Minister by King Paul to take the country to elections in 1963 and Prime Minister George Papandreou did not fly to "to the royal summer palace on Corfu" on 15 July to resign "at the end of a brief meeting" with the King (p. 122). That fateful meeting took place in Athens. Ambassador Dimitrios Bitsios, not King Constantine's "adjunct, Major Michael Arnaoutis" (p. 129), negotiated the King's secret December 1966 deal with Center Union leader George Papandreou and ERE leader Panayiotis Kanellopoulos to create the ill-fated "Paraskevopoulos solution." [End Page 433]

Such inaccuracies are discouraging in a scholarly work slated, according to its dust jacket, to become "the book against which future studies will be measured." But far more serious than factual blunders are his interpretations of Greek-U.S. relations that simply ignore or defy important evidentiary material. I confine myself to one instance.

Beginning with his chapter, "The Greek Tar Baby, 1950–53," Miller argues that "American experience in Greece" was "a tale of the ways in which small states successfully manipulate great powers. . . . Essentially, the Greek political class became a tar baby from which the United States could not disengage successfully, except on terms it was unwilling to accept" (p. 24). Yet Miller's intimate knowledge of the available U.S. documentation should have given him pause in making such a statement. In January 1963, Katherine Bracken, head of the office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs (GTI) and, from June 1966, head of the Embassy political section, wrote a memorandum for President John Kennedy explaining that "United States–Greek relations are in a state of transition or reorientation," ("United States–Greek Relations," National Security files, Robert Komer, White House Memoranda, 1961–63). Reductions in U.S. military aid was being "misunderstood in some ways" in Greece as "an attempt to jettison them for budgetary reasons, as the British did in 1947." Bemoaning this impact, she concluded with the frank, if somewhat cynical assertion that "It is not in our interest to reduce the degree of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 433-435
Launched on MUSE
2010-01-15
Open Access
No
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