Reading List

Before you come or whilst you're here,

find out more about the region's rich history.

Prespa: a Story for Man & Nature

 

 

Dr. Giorgos Catsadorakis

1999

Dr. Catsadorakis has been at the forefront of preserving and promoting Prespa since the 1980s and is one of Greece’s most well-respected biologists.

 

To explain just how good this book is, in 1999 two young folk in London read it, looking for inspiration and a way out of the big city. They moved to Prespa off the back of this book and 17 years later they’re still here. 

 

    "It is not easy to assign this book to any precise category. It is not a novel. It is not a narrative. It is not a chronicle of a journey. It is not a travel guide. It is neither purely historical nor purely environmentalist, and it is not a fabrication either. Nor, indeed, does it simply describe a particular place and various events as experienced by the author through his personal involvement in them. It is, however, a book written with a fourfold purpose: to paint an all-round picture of Prespa, with enough information and technical data to make it intelligible and enjoyable for the lay reader while at the same time catering for more specialist interests; to draw attention to and highlight the extraordinary beauty and biodiversity of Prespa; to reveal the relations existing between the different elements that compromise this rich physical and cultural environment and, above all; to stimulate readers to contribute whatever they can to ensure that this marvellous piece of countryside is preserved intact for future generations."

 

Difficult to find at a reasonable price online. We can buy it in Greece and ship it to you. Please email us at info@balkantracks.com 

 

One of the two young folk above, Julian has now written his own mini-masterpiece on Prespa, but through a completely different lens to Dr. Catsadorakis.

 

“Guided by Rainer Maria Rilke’s belief that “everything beckons us to perceive it,” Hoffman explores the area around the Prespa Lakes, shared by Greece, Albania, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From there he travels widely, believing that through awareness, curiosity, and openness we have the potential to forge abiding relationships with a range of places. The Small Heart of Things is a book about looking and listening. It incorporates travel and natural history writing, interweaving human stories with those of wild creatures as Hoffman illuminates how, when we accord places our close and patient attention, these many connections can teach us to be at home in the world.

 

Winner of the American Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Creative Non-fiction.

 

 

Available online

 

The Small Heart of Things

 

 

Julian Hoffman

2015

A historical account, which de Bernieres and Mazower (see below) used as references in their books. It’s a great work in its own right, and easy to read too.

 

“In 1923, after a long war over the future of the Ottoman world, nearly two million citizens of Turkey and Greece were moved across the Aegean – expelled because they belonged to the ‘wrong’ religion. Bruce Clark’s fascinating account of these turbulent events draws on new research in Greece and Turkey, and interviews with surviving refugees who lived through those years, allowing the victims of this large scale ethnic cleanings to speak for themselves for the first time.

 

Wikipedia has a summary of the exchanges - read here.

 

Twice a Stranger

 

 

Bruce Clark

2006

Coming after Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, de Bernieres stayed in Greece but moved to the tragic story of the Greek-Turkish population exchanges, the social and political effects of which are still felt today. This novel is a great bit of historical fiction, which moves between "Eskibahçe, a small fictional village in south-western coastal Anatolia during the 1900s, and the major battlefields of World War I, with the Battle of Gallipoli taking place halfway through the novel. Narrated by various characters, it tells the tragic love story of Philothei and Ibrahim. It also chronicles the rise of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the 'Father of the Turkish Nation'. The overarching theme of the story covers the impact of religious intolerance, over-zealous nationalism, and the war that often results. The characters are unwittingly caught up in historical tides outside of their control."

 

The north of Greece is still populated by the descendants of these Pondic Greek and Minor Asia refugees, who we meet in our tours, to hear their family histories from the people themselves.

 

Birds Without Wings

 

 

Louis de Bernieres

2004

Salonica, City of Ghosts

 

 

Mark Mazower

2004

“The history of a bewilderingly exotic city, rarely written about: five hundred years of clashing cultures and peoples, from the glories of Suleiman the Magnificent to its nadir under Nazi occupation. Salonica (Thessaloniki) is the point where the wonders and horrors of the Orient and Europe have met over the centuries. Written with a Pepysian sense of the texture of daily life in the city through the ages, and with breathtakingly detailed historical research, Salonica evokes the sights, smells, habits, songs and responses of a unique city and its inhabitants.

 

The history of Salonica is one of forgotten alternatives and wrong choices, of identities assumed and discarded. For centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims have succeeded each other in ascendancy, each people intent on erasing the presence of their predecessors, and the result is a city of extraordinarily rich cultural traditions and memories of extreme violence and genocide, one that sits on the overlapping hinterlands of both Europe and the East.

 

Mark Mazower has written a work of astonishing depth and originality about this remarkable city. Magnificently researched and beautifully written, it is more than a book about a place; it studies in detail the way in which three great faiths and peoples have inhabited the same territory, and how smooth transitions and adaptations have been interwoven with violent endings and new beginnings.”

 

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0044 (0)7506 381757

 

 

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