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Farewell to Salonica: City at the Crossroads 1 Reprint Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1589880023
ISBN-10: 1589880021
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Leon Sciaky and Farewell to Salonica

"A jewel of memory."—Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Book-of-the-Month Club

"Farewell to Salonica is a fresh and charming book that throws a kindly light on a sector of human life unknown to most Americans."—New York Times

"A gallery of beautiful and quaint sketches, revealing fascinating aspects of civilization in a strange city where East met West and the ancient past met the future…It creates an atmosphere of expectation and wonder and enjoyment. Most of all, an atmosphere of living."—Christian Science Monitor

"An altogether charming book, so simply and truthfully written…The Salonica one reads about is not only a fascinating and complex city in which many national and cultural strains run side by side, but it is a critical city of Aegean politics…The breakdown of the Turkish Empire and its consequences for Balkan affairs are better understood when one has read this book. But it is not the political value of the book that should be emphasized so much as its quiet charm, its unpretentious and easy portrayal of a cultural pattern through an account of an engaging family…A warm and softly luminous book."—The Nation

"This is a story of one man's intensely happy boyhood, set against the politically seething years at the turn of the century in the ever-coveted prize city of the Balkans, Salonica…written in a charming and effortless manner."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"For the gift of a happy youth, Mr. Sciaky has repaid his city handsomely…it recalls Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon…It is an intensely personal story, yet so completely was [the young Sciaky] of his time and place that it is also the story of Salonica in the final phase of its existence; for the city that Sciaky knew, largely dominated by its 70,000 Spanish Jews, has gone…The author has made Salonica a living town, peopled by men and women of flesh and blood, people with all the human faults and weaknesses, but also with the lovable qualities that may be found in humanity everywhere by the man with skill to pick them out"—New York Herald Tribune

"A charming portrait of an era."—Honolulu Advertiser

"This picture of a Jewish childhood among rich merchants in Salonica has a glow, the radiant sunshine of a protected childhood."—Chicago Sun

About the Author

Leon Sciaky was born in 1894, when the Turkish flag still waved over Salonica. His family left their beloved but turbulent homeland in 1915, settling in New York City. Sciaky lived in America--mainly upstate New York--with his wife, Frances, and son until his death in 1958. He taught at a number of progressive schools and camps and, in his last years, owned and operated a school and camp with Frances.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Paul Dry Books; 1 Reprint edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589880021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589880023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John E. Fischer on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I discovered this book by reading Mazower's book. This was a pure delight to read. The author brought me back to a Thessaloniki I had learned about in Mazower, but added the warm, personal details of family life and interaction among the groups which made up Salonica in the early 20th century. I didn't want the book to end. I was surprised to learn that it had been published quite a while ago and that the author's child added an epilogue. I wish I had read it before and wandered the streets to find some of the landmarks.
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This is a fascinating book about one of the world's most interesting cities. It wouldn't appear obvious today because Thessaloniki (as it's called in Greek today as in ancient times) gives the impression of being a wholly-Greek and modern big city, but it was anything but that for the 500 years prior to World War I: it was a multinational, multicultural Balkan port city of the Ottoman Empire, whose largest single ethnic group was Sephardic Jews from Spain, Portugal and Italy and whose lingua franca was Judeo-Spanish ("Ladino"), a language very close to modern Spanish (and different from it primarily in that the former has sounds and syntax that were current in Castilian speech 500 years ago but have since changed or disappeared as the Spanish language developed over time). The book is written from the point of view of a Sephardic Jewish Salonican who senses (rightly) that the golden age of the city as a Jewish metropolis (or a multicultural one, for that matter) are coming to an end and conveys that general sense about as well as could possibly be done. (Although, needless to say, he could not possibly have anticipated the wholesale slaughter of nearly the entire Jewish community which occurred barely 30 years later.)
This book actually inspired me to go to Salonica (Thessaloniki) and see for myself. Judeo-Spanish is still spoken, but only by the elderly Sephardic Jews (everyone else speaks Greek), and at the one synagogue at which outsiders are able to attend services there is rigorous scrutiny of all people other than regular congregants -- such are the times, and such is the city's historic memory. Apart from the physical setting (on a horseshoe-shaped bay with Mt.
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Format: Paperback
Farewell To Salonica: City At The Crossroads is the autobiography of Leon Sciaky and tells of his having grown up in Salonica (now called Thessaloniki), in Greece. A remarkable view of a place where Sephardic Jews, Greeks, Turks, Macedonians, Albanians, and Bulgarians all met, traded, and went about their daily lives. A superbly written memoir, Farewell to Salonica is a heartfelt, highly recommended testimony to a memorable city and a cultural mecca.
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Format: Paperback
A beautifully written book. I love Greece and I have been to Thessaloniki several times, however you can tell when visiting that there is a part missing. The upper town with its old turkish houses, the overabundance of stray cats, the feel of the port and the fantastic views from the roof tavernas at the top of the old town - all this must have been all the more magical at the beginning of the 20th century.
Read this book!
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The book was a bit slow at times and difficult to follow. The writer uses foreign words quite often. I didn't realize until I finished reading the book that there was a glossary in the back of the book that defines all of the turkish, greek, bulgarian and other words that are throughout the book. At times I felt like I was enduring this book, but by the time I got to the last four or five chapters I had a difficult time putting it down. This book was definitely worth the read.
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For the lovers of Thessaloniki history, this is a must. It was written around the 1940s and compares to the 'City of Ghosts". It ought to be translated into Greek, if it has not been already.
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