Academic journal article Military Review

Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922: The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance

Academic journal article Military Review

Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922: The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance

Article excerpt

PARADISE LOST: Smyrna, 1922: The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance, Giles Milton, Basic Books, New York, 2008, 432 pages, $27.95.

Giles Milton, one of the more entertaining writers of popular history, has written a book that is both gripping and a good read. Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922: The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance discusses the destruction of the cosmopolitan city of Smyrna (Izmir) and the ethnic and religious purges that accompanied it. The period following World War I was full of turmoil that could not be calmed by the host of international solutions and the mandates that accompanied it. The German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires were dismembered and the minority nationalities were given great autonomy and, often, independence. President Woodrow Wilson's well-meaning Fourteen Points were part of this effort. Britain, France, and the United States were not only proponents but also "neutrals" in this effort. The result was trauma, deep trauma that is still apparent in the Middle East and the Balkans.

Smyrna was a truly cosmopolitan city that was peopled by Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Arabs, and Europeans. It was the richest city in Anatolia. However, large parts of Anatolia were occupied by Greece with British connivance. When Mustafa Kemal launched his successful counteroffensive against the Greek Army, Smyrna fell under Turkish control. The old city was torched and Turkish irregulars fell upon the Greek, Armenian, and Jewish populace. It was bloody repayment with a vengeance for earlier Greek atrocities against the Turks. …

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