The Making of a Greek Statesman, 1864–1914

March 2021 9781787381421 320pp
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Eleftherios Venizelos (1864–1936) was the outstanding Greek statesman of the first half of the twentieth century. Michael Llewellyn-Smith traces his early years, political apprenticeship in Crete, and energetic role in that island’s emancipation from both Ottoman rule and the arbitrary rule of Prince George of Greece.

Summoned to Athens in 1910 by a cabal of officers, Venizelos mastered the Greek political scene, sent the military back to barracks, and led the country through a glorious period of constitutional and political reform, ending in a Balkan alliance waging successful war against Ottoman rule in Europe. By 1914, Greece had doubled in territory and population, and was about to face the challenges of European war. Tensions were rising between the king and the prime minister, foreshadowing political schism.

This book illuminates Venizelos’ political mastery, liberalism and nationalism, and traces his fateful friendship with David Lloyd George. A second volume will complete his story, with the Great War, the post-war peace settlement, Greece’s Asia Minor disaster, and Venizelos’ late years of renewed prime ministerial office, political polarisation and exile in Paris.


‘[Outlines] Venizelos’s rise to power in superb detail.’ — The Telegraph

‘A great addition to modern Greek history, Venizelos tackles broad questions of political leadership and nationalism. It fills a major gap and will strongly attract a cadre of international readers. Highly readable, enjoyable and instructive—it’s hard to ask for more.’  — Stathis Kalyvas, Gladstone Professor of Government, University of Oxford

Venizelos is a powerful portrait of an extraordinary man, painting a rich picture of his social and political environment. A masterful analysis of the personal, domestic and international factors at play, it is well-researched, original and vivid.’ — Helen Katsiadakis, Researcher Emerita, the Venizelos Foundation

‘An impressive work of scholarship, rendering outstanding services to the political history of Modern Greece and the art of political biography. Llewellyn-Smith deserves the gratitude of all those trying to promote knowledge and understanding in these fields of research.’ — Paschalis Kitromilides, Academy of Athens


Michael Llewellyn-Smith was British Ambassador in Athens in the 1990s and lived in Venizelos’ house. He has written books on Greece in Asia Minor (1919–22), the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, and the history and culture of Athens. Venizelos has been a lifelong interest.

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