Farewell to Salonica

Leon Sciaky / Introduction by Neil Barnett

‘It is nostalgic, beautifully written and illuminating for its evocation of how an apparently stable, multicultural provincial Ottoman city collapsed into the tangle of Balkan rivalries that still beset the region.’
The Sunday Times

‘A fresh and charming book that throws a kindly light on a sector of human life unknown to most Americans.’ 
The New York Times

‘… beautifully done. It is a fascinating, valuable testimony to some of the benefits of the Ottoman Rule.’ 


At the turn of the twentieth century Salonica (now Thessaloniki in Greece) was an oasis in a swirl of conflicting powers and interests, a vibrant world of varied peoples at the crossroads of East and West. Under Ottoman rule, the city’s diverse communities – Jews, Muslims Turks, Orthodox Greeks and Bulgarians – met, traded and lived alongside one another peacefully. But this tolerant society was not to last, eventually succumbing to the nationalist sentiment rampant among the peoples of the Empire. Farewell to Salonica is a fascinating and nostalgic portrait of a lost society, in which Sciaky laments the encroachment of Western ‘machine civilisation’ on the older, more human ways of the Orient.

LEON SCIAKY was born in Salonica in 1893, and emigrated to the United States in 1915. After studying engineering, he ran a pioneering children’s camp. He and his family moved to Mexico in 1953, where he died in 1958.

NEIL BARNETT, who wrote the introduction to this volume, is a journalist specialising in the Balkans and has for the Independent and the Economist. He is the author of a biography of Tito.

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