Salonica, City of Ghosts : Christians, Muslim And Jews, 1430-1950
Having returned many times to the city he first visited two decades ago, Mark Mazower, Professor of History at Columbia University and Birkbeck College London, has produced an extraordinary chronicle of Thessaloniki's life. Beginning with the ottoman conquest in 1430, it takes in the period of Jewish immigration from Spain, the return of Greek rule after the first Balkan war in 1912 and ends just after the disastrous brief intervention at the Nazis, which saw the Jewish population all but exterminated.
Mazower is a formidable historian and no stranger to controversial periods in Greek History, with previous works including Inside Hitler's Greece and The Balkans: A Short History. Salonica is sure to cause some upset in Greece, and any work that deals with the thorny issues of the Ottoman Empire, Greek nationality, religion and Macedonia will be subject to intense scrutiny. But, tghough he writes of the religious tolerance of rule from Constantinople and the relatively peaceful co-existance of Christians, Muslims and Jews, the book is full of blood, shed by all sides.
The brutality of the various invaders and the confusing array of religious beliefs that swirled around the city - from the Hanafi school of Islam to the Sabbataists and the Orthodox Greeks - are skillfully protrayed. Salonica is, however at its strongest in the latter half, particularly on the re-conquest by the Greeks and the process of Hellenization. Here the contemporary quotations come into their own; on visiting Thessaloniki for the first time, one leading Athenian politician was overcome by its beauty: "I like this city enormously. I can't believe its ours!"