August 31, 2012
The political mayhem which overtook Greece in the 1960s was avoidable and, in some ways, unexpected. Although the embers of a bitter left-right civil war were still smouldering, Hellenes began that decade in an upbeat mood. There seemed a decent chance that democracy would put down stronger roots in the land of its birth as prosperity grew.
Instead, one disaster followed another. The country’s future was furiously contested not only by scheming politicians but by other groups: street demonstrators, a politicised monarchy, the American embassy and foreign spooks. All this is subject to careful, intelligent analysis in a new biography of Andreas Papandreou by Stan Draenos, an American-based Greek historian and political scientist.
Using archives and interviews Mr Draenos studies every twist in the early political career of the man who later stormed to power as Greece’s first socialist leader in 1981. The book traces Papandreou's return to Greece in 1959 as an American-trained academic, his metamorphosis into a political firebrand, his imprisonment in 1967, followed a few months later by his expulsion from Greece and exile in Sweden. (The family's Swedish experience helped to mould Andreas’s son, George Papandreou, into a moderate social-democratic leader whose government fell victim to the euro crisis last year.)