Britain, Greece and the Colonels, 1967-74

Between Pragmatism and Human Rights

January 2020 9781849043656 286pp


The long history of Anglo–Greek relations has deservedly attracted much attention. One of its most controversial — yet least explored — phases was that spanning the Greek Colonels’ seven-year military junta, from 1967-74. Drawing on a corpus of diverse, original and largely primary material, Maragkou provides a comprehensive analysis of British policy towards Greece during this tumultuous era. Not only does she contribute to the historiography of Anglo–Greek relations, but her book also serves as a case study of British foreign policy within the Cold War. And by demonstrating that national history can be best understood by analysing the relationship between a nation state and factors beyond its control, the conclusions drawn can be applied beyond the strictly regional or the exclusively bilateral, as they also fit into a transnational paradigm. It was in the 1960s when what we now term ‘globalisation’ was in full swing. Henceforward, no nation — and no foreign office — was an island: it was part of a whole, in which both state and non-state actors internationally played their part in the evolution of thinking on foreign affairs. Here is the key to understanding the tortuous history of Britain and the Greek Colonels — one that has many echoes in our own time.

Table of contents


1. From ‘Extreme Reserve’ to ‘Business as Usual’

2. From ‘Wrestling with the Question of Recognition’ to ‘Worthy Competitors of Judas Iscariot’

3. From ‘Low ebb’, Back to Normal, and then to the ‘Lowest ebb’

4. ‘A Series of Shifts and Jolts, with Occasional Sunny Intervals’

5. From ‘Unwarranted Expectations of Greater Sympathy’ to ‘Satisfactory’ Relations

6. ‘A Policy of “Doing Good by Stealth”’

7. From ‘Business as Usual’ to ‘Developing Good and Constructive Relations’

8. From a ‘Good Working Relationship’ to a ‘Proper Working Relationship’


‘Maragkou tells a good story based on fairly recently released Foreign Office papers and numerous interviews with now elderly participants in the policy and diplomatic processes.’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘This is an illuminating book that describes vividly democratic Britain’s pragmatic foreign policy vis-a-vis the Greek military junta. Based on rich archival work, it exposes the limitations of realpolitik in action.’ — Othon Anastasakis, Director of South East European Studies at Oxford

‘An amply researched monograph covering an important period of Anglo–Greek relations. Maragkou deftly presents the dilemmas and tasks facing three successive British governments during the period of Greece’s military dictatorship and addresses the perennial conflict between pragmatism and principles.’ — I.D. Stefanidis, Professor in Diplomatic History, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


Konstantina Maragkou is a lecturer in History at Yale University. She received her PhD and MPhil in History from the University of Cambridge and a BA in Modern History, Economic History and Politics from the University of London.

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