In This Review

The Greek Revolution: 1821 and the Making of Modern Europe
The Greek Revolution: 1821 and the Making of Modern Europe
By Mark Mazower
608 pp, Penguin Press, 2021

This year marks the bicentennial of the beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821, through which Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire. This lively introduction persuasively argues that the rebellion was not just a local squabble but an epochal shift in modern history. The American Revolution aside, it was the first of many conflicts in which a small nation asserted its right to self-determination and self-government against an ancient empire. The dynamics of such conflicts have since become familiar. Although some Greeks sought to vindicate a vision of nationhood, most fought to defend their right to practice Christianity, avenge oppression, depose foreign landlords, or simply make money. Diaspora communities and small powers got involved, and powerful local groups grabbed land, resources, and power. Both sides committed atrocities and massacres. Many Greeks fought heroically, but in the end, they prevailed only because France, Russia, and the United Kingdom intervened to crush the imperial Egyptian and Ottoman forces. Over the next 200 years, in much the same way, many nation-states would replace principalities, kingdoms, empires, and colonies that had existed for centuries.