Book Review: Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922; The Destruction Of Islam’S

Veronica Arellano

Library Journal Reviews
July 15, 2008

Milton, Giles. Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922; The
Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance. Basic Bks: Perseus
. Jul. 2008. c.464p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 978-0-465-01119-3
. $27.95. HIST

At the beginning of the 20th century, Smyrna was the most vibrant,
cosmopolitan city in the Ottoman Empire. Home to an overwhelming
population of Greeks, Armenians, and wealthy Levantine business
owners, this Turkish city was a multicultural model of peaceful
cohabitation. Yet the advent of World War I and increasing sectarian
tension transformed this Ottoman "paradise" into a war zone long after
the war officially ended. A complete breakdown of law and order and
an indifferent foreign military presence ultimately led to the city’s
brutal destruction and one of the worst humanitarian crises the world
had ever seen. London journalist Milton (Nathaniel’s Nutmeg ) raises
expectations for this chronicle of the destruction of Smyrna, and,
thankfully, he does not disappoint. Drawing heavily from the personal
narratives of Smyrna’s Christian residents and foreign diplomats, as
well as interviews with survivors, Milton offers a detailed portrayal
of life in Smyrna, a comprehensive look at the politics that shaped
the city, and a shockingly vivid eyewitness account of the city’s
violent demise. This extremely well-researched historical narrative is
recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Veronica Arellano,
Univ. of Houston Libs.