There used to be a type of book known as the 'Secret History' of some international problem. With some passion, extensive citation of material, and a somewhat self-regarding manner, such books made it apparent that there was a great deal in the way of conspiracy and intrigue that ought to be told. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was a great practitioner of the art in the last century and in this short, sparkling and committed essay Christopher Hitchens writes in somewhat the same tradition. He is a radical British journalist living in the United States who is married to a Greek Cypriot and has an understanding of and love for this unfortunately-placed island. For him, enjoyment of the great beauty of Cyprus, Aphrodite's putative birthplace, is spoiled by recollection of the ugly things done there during the last thirty years, and he writes in hot refutation of the message he sees in Nancy Crawshaw's major study The Cyprus Revolt - that it was primarily the victim's fault. What he calls the axis of his book is the summer of 1974 when a Turkish invasion transformed the demography of the island - a third of the 80 per cent Greek population of Cyprus abandoning their homes in the north and about half of the 18 per cent Turkish population heading from the south to the north. For this, Hitchens maintains, four countries - Britain, Greece, Turkey and the United States - are principally to blame.
LRB 6 September 1984 | PDF Download