Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Written on the Knee by Dr. Theodore Electris

Written on the Knee

Written on the Knee:
A Diary from the Greek-Italian Front of WWII
Diary by Dr. Theodore Electris
Edited and translated by Helen Electrie Lindsay

Trade Paperback: 230 pages
Publisher: Scarletta Press
First Released: 2008

Buy from Amazon

Source: review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
During the Greek-Italian conflict of World War II, Dr. Theodore Electris, newly married and idealistic, was called up to the Greek-Italian front in the remote mountains of Albania. Homesick, hungry and desperately missing his young wife, Chrysoula, he kept an intimate journal to preserve his experiences for her.

Translated by his daughter, Helen Electrie Lindsay, Electris’ entries and letters come together in Written on the Knee. Fully illustrated and accompanied by supporting reference material, the collection serves as both an authentic historical document of Greek involvement in WWII and a story of love, separation and family ties threatened and strengthened by war.

Often overlooked in the scope of WWII, Greece’s six-month conflict with Mussolini’s forces played a pivotal role in the war’s outcome. The small country’s fierce resistance against the Italians delayed Hitler’s move into the Soviet Union, which many historians believe turned the war in favor of the Allies.

From Dr. Electris’ first entry to his last, Written on the Knee captures the true story of love and war during a crucial time in modern history.

Written on the Knee is a war diary with related letters, photos, and maps included. There are also sections giving a brief history of the time before, during, and after the diary to put the diary in context. It's an interesting, personal look at what WWII was like on Greek-Italian front. Since it's a diary, he often writes a lot about some aspects (like the travel, finding food, finding ways to send letters, interpersonal relations, air raids) and less on others (actual patients and wounds treated and the fighting going on).

After the diary section of the book, the editor has included information about the overall war movements on this front which helped put the doctor's experiences in context. I understand why it was put afterward--so the reader could share in the not knowing the big picture that the doctor experienced--but some readers might find it more useful to read it first.

The nice black and white photos show the doctor at the various camps and villages and help show the people and places that he describes in his diary.

One of the included maps shows the doctor's travels with the dates he wrote about entering the town or area so the reader can track his movement. There are other maps showing the lines of war and such, but there was so much information on the black-and-white maps that I had a hard time figuring out where the doctor was and how the map related to what he was describing. People used to these types of maps will probably find them useful, though.

I'd recommend this book to WWII history buffs and to those of Greek descent who are interested in that nation's history.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Diary
November 1, 1940

Mobilization, mobilization...we are being mobilized...

Around 2:00 PM, we started from camp, taking the side roads, walking towards the Harmanakion [Alexandria] station. We arrived there around 4:00 P.M. Halfway there were two air raids; we scattered and took cover in the surrounding hills.

All morning long, before we departed, I waited for my sweet wife, so I could say goodbye; I was worried that she might have encountered an air raid as well. She finally came just as we were pulling out. My sweetheart, my love, why should she have to suffer so much, only because I love her?! She loves me too and I feel it. For her love I can withstand anything.

Soon we will board trains that will take us to Sorovich [Amynteo].

All along during out move I worried about her return to the house. This "worry" thing is a newly developed feeling and is gripping us all with its claws; it's worse than fear itself.

With these thoughts and emotions I look for a phone and call her.

No comments: