10 December 2011

The Cretan Runner - George Pdychoundakis

I don't think I'll ever be able to call this one of my favourite books, as it was way too rooted in facts to suit my taste. However I wouldn't say that I didn't enjoy it.

This book was the autobiography of George Psychoundakis. He seems to me a person whose life no-one would under normal circumstances take any interest in. However his story shares similarities with that of Anne Frank and other 'ordinary' people who experienced something a little bit different.

The Autobiography runs solely from 1941, when the Germans first occupied Crete, to their leaving the island at the very end of WWII. It showed me a completely different viewpoint and a different side to the war than the one you tend to think of. In thinking of the War you tend to think, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, The Holocaust and Eastern Europe. You tend to give little thought to the fact that it was, as the name states, literally a global war. There are very few countries who were not affected.

I bought the book over a year ago for some background reading for History Coursework. I soon realised that it was essentially irrelevent to either of my topics, and as such put it down. I didn't pick it up again until about a fortnight ago, but I'm glad that I did. It was very interesting learning about such a different aspect of the war, and how the resistance fought against the Germans.

Although he's called himself a runner, he seems more to have hiked than run, something which I can't hold against him, as he did the job of a runner, while having to deal with the rocky landscape of Crete.

I have only two issues with this book. The first is that it was originally written in Greek, and in places it hasn't translated very well making it an effort to read. The second is that in parts of the book it becomes little more than a list of names, both of people and places, which mean little to anyone who didn't know them and their settings. Although where possible there have been attempts to rectify this, it could make it a tad slow placed.

I would reccomend this book to anyone with an interest in wartime history. It's a brilliant source of a different perspective.


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