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  You are in: Home > Jewish Studies > The Lost Worlds of Rhodes  

The Lost Worlds of Rhodes
Greeks, Italians, Jews and Turks between Tradition and Modernity

Nathan Shachar

Nathan Shachar is the Jerusalem correspondent of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. His previous books include The Mysterious Passion, a widely acclaimed interpretation of Spanish History, and prize-winning collections of essays on the Middle East and Latin America. His The Gaza Strip: Its History and Politics was published in early 2010 (“Conveys his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Gaza Strip by means of a moving and entertaining narrative”–, Ramy Wurgaft, El Mundo, Madrid), and has recently been reprinted.


Four peoples, each with its own culture, language and faith, shared a small Mediterranean town and experienced, each in its own way, the upheavals of war, modernity, emigration and occupation. With the German takeover in 1943, the Holocaust in 1944 and the beginning of Greek rule in 1947, this multiethnic world perished forever. At the centre of this book stands the Sephardi community – Spanish-speaking Jews who arrived in Rhodes sometime after the Spanish expulsion edict of 1492 and who remained the largest single group within the old city walls until Italy adopted German racial legislation in 1938.

When sultan Abdulhamit II ascended to the Ottoman throne in 1876, the Jews of Rhodes were among his most loyal and traditional, not to say hidebound, subjects. But within the course of a few decades, this bastion of piety and rabbinical tradition was thoroughly transformed by French rationalism, Italian secularism and the pressures of economic globalization. Many unlikely characters come alive in this spirited account of the vibrant and irretrievably lost world of Rhodes: The French monks who impart universal values to provincial Turks, Greeks and Jews; the Rhodian schoolboy lost in a Congolese jungle; the Italian general who brings sanitation to the medieval town; the Greek shepherd who knows the history of Rhodes better than any scholar; the Turkish diplomat whose wife was murdered by the Nazis and then risked his life to save Jews from the SS. These are just some of the stories related directly to the author, who combines journalism with scholarship in the recreation of a unique cultural microcosm.

Chapter 1
Hic Rodus, hic salta!
An Introduction

Chapter 2
France in Rhodes - Mirage or Promised Land?
On the incredible love of France among Eastern Orientals

Chapter 3
The Seeds of War – Italy in 1911
Italian Colonialism and the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912

Chapter 4
The Road to Psinthos
Visiting the last battlefield of 1912

Chapter 5
Fiat Lux! Italy – A Light Unto the Nations?
The beginning of Italian occupation and the first reaction of the natives

Chapter 6
Incipit vita nova ...
Daily life between the old and the new

Chapter 7
Opening Up
The beginnings of tourism

Chapter 8
Mussolini challenges French cultural hegemony

Chapter 9
A New Career: Going Away Forever
On emigration

Chapter 10
The years of Mario de Vecchi

Chapter 11
Greeks and Jews – A Wound Unhealed
On the oldest of all bilateral relationships

Chapter 12


Reviews to follow


Publication Details

Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
256 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
April 2013
  Illustrated:   Yes
Paperback Price:
£22.95 / $34.95

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