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Paradise Lost – Smyrna 1922

Paradise Lost – Smyrna 1922 by Giles Milton.

Smyrna was a city on the western coast of Anatolia, in what is now Turkey. If you are looking for Smyrna on a map, it is now known as Izmir.  Before the First World War, Smyrna was a prosperous city with a varied population comprising Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Europeans and Americans mostly living in their own sectors of the city. The prominent buisnessmen and merchants were often those known as Levantines, families with English names who had never been to England, and the like, who lived lives of great opulence, living in grand mansions on the outskirts and ammusing themselves with yachts and summer houses. The various ethnic groups lived in relative harmony under the Ottoman regime.  At this time, large numbers of Christian Greeks, and also Armenians, lived within the declining Ottoman empire.

Signs of strain emerged during the first world war, which the Ottomans entered on the side of Germany, and as the war progressed, the Ottoman empire engaged in unsuccessful campaigns and edged closer to disintegration. Discrimination against the non-Turkish populations started, spurred by central edicts, though a liberal Turkish governor of Smyrna strove to protect the city’s non-Turkish residents.  By the end of the war, the victorious Allies had occupied parts of the dying Ottoman empire including Constantinople, Smyrna and other parts of the coast, while a nationalist Turkish regime headed by  Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk).was emerging in Anatolia.

The Turks, infuriated by Armenian uprisings during the war, deported hundreds of thousands of them in 1915 in the notorious Armenian genocide. (Why the Turks should expect any loyalty from a people they had already repeatedly persecuted is beyond comprehension.) Milton clearly has no truck with excuses for the genocide and claims that its murderous tactics were sanctioned at the highest level.

Worse was to come. The Greeks. encouraged by the Allies including Britain, embarked on an invasion of Anatolia with the aim of creating a greater Greece.  At first this went well, but the Greeks over-reached themselves in the semi-desert interior, and by 1922 were being driven back with losses, while all the towns and villages fought over were sacked and burnt, and populations attacked, by one side or the other. By September 1922 the victorious Turks were entering Smyrna. At first the inhabitants had little fear of anything dire happening, as a fleet of warships from various nations had gathered in the harbour.  However many Turks wanted revenge for atrocities committed by the Greeks, and the Turkish forces included many ill-disciplined irregulars.

As the disorganised, ragged and half-starved Greek troops flooded into the city, hoping to be taken off from the harbour, the situation deteriorated, with Turkish forces looting, raping and killing, with particular attention to the Armenian quarter. Then sections of the city were set ablaze. According to Milton this was entirely deliberate and carried out by the Turkish forces.  Within days, hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees were crowded on the waterfront with flames on one side, the sea on the other, and subject to random murderous attacks by Turkish forces.  The international ships in the harbour refused to embark any of them lest they offend the new Turkish regime.

Eventually the Greeks, shamed by an American citizen, sent ships to take off many of those trapped on the quayside, but by this time most of Smyrna (except the Turkish quarter) had been burnt to the ground, and eventually an estimated two hundred thousand people had died of various causes – murdered, burnt, drowned, or taken on death marches into the interior. One witness commented that it made him ashamed to be part of the human race.

Those who escaped were left peniless, robbed as they left, and spent many years living in poverty in Greece and elsewhere. The great Levantine families likewise never recovered, with all their wealth and property stolen or destroyed.

Before long, a further, greater exodus of desperate refugees began as Greece and Turkey exchanged their remaining minority populations to create the two monotheistic states that remain today.

This is a powerful account that will be of interest to students of history, and those seeking an explanation for animosities that linger to this day.

As s footnote, Louis de Bernieres novel “Birds Without Wings” is set in the same tragic period and refers to many of the same events.


The Plain Girl’s Earrings update

Cover image
Original Cover

I am looking at updating the cover designs for “The Plain Girl’s Earrings” to make it resemble more the branding of the Witch’s Box series. At present there is a Smashwords edition with a different title (Deadly Relics) and a different cover.

Witch’s Box sequel

steampunk girl

Work is in progress for two sequels to “The Witch’s Box”. The first appeared on Jan 15 2021 as an e-book with the title “The Golim War” (available now for sales), and as a paperback. Princess Maihara supports the rebel General Tarchon in his struggle against the Sar Empire. An e-book cover is shown here.

Order: – or search Kindle for Kim J Cowie

Kim J. Cowie is also on Goodreads.

The Witch’s Box

The Witch's Box cover

This is the first volume of a planned trilogy.

Imperial Princess Maihara does not get on well with her autocratic father and absorbs radical ideas from her tutor. Meanwhile, the Western capital is under assault by rebels, inspiring the strong-willed and curious Maihara to dabble with the magical box gifted to her by an unknown donor.

For more details, see ‘My Books’

Non-writing tech stuff 2

I bought a MSP990 36 volt satellite positioner box to update my satellite setup. It came without a user manual. I assumed I could easily download one, but no, nothing to be found anywhere. I tried purchasing one online, and claimed to have it, but when I paid the fee the manual did not download, the manual was not in their database and all I got when contacting them was a lot of weasly excuses.

Later I managed to figure out the essentials of how to operate the box so I could use it. The standard definition satellite receivers now don’t seem worth a lot of effort to repair them, as more channels switch to HD. Currently I have one HD euro satellite box and one working SD.

A few days ago I received a new router from my internet service provider, as I had had the original one for 8 years. I just had to pay a postage and packing fee, and agree to send the old one back.

Witch’s Box news

The Witch's Box cover

I am working on a sequel, , and have a complete draft which is now under revision. The provisional plan is to e-publish another instalment on the aniversary of publication of the first part (15th January).

Non-writing tech stuff

I am used to electronic kit being mostly reliable but have had an epidemic of failures in the past few months, several discovered yesterday:

Two spare BD players – both no longer play BDs

Satellite receiver/positioner – died.

Spare satellite receiver/positioner – remote control dead, half of positioner not working.

Universal programmable remote control – dead.

I have had the multisatellite system for quite a long time and it has undergone several modifications. The dish is moved by a 36 volt jack actuator, which will mean little to most people, but it is a scheme which has become obsolete for domestic-sized dishes. Similarly the integrated satellite receiver/ positioners have become obsolete. The makers of my two do not seem to be even making any satellite receivers of this type any more.

Which leaves me with a problem, since the whole system is currently unusable with no working positioner. How to repair and future proof the system? I intend to purchase a stand-alone dish positioner box, which will get the system working and allow both receivers to work. All components of the system will then be replaceable with parts that are currently available new or used.

Too bad that the all4one remote died as I was going to program it to replace the dead satellite remote, but a replacement for the Echostar remote is only £10. I could work it from the front panel but it seems worth the investment to avoid crouching over the set-top box.

Upcoming Internet Radio interview

The Witch's Box cover This Thursday (6 Feb) I have an interview booked on Chat and Spin Radio at 4:50 pm, where I will be interviewed for about 6 minutes about my latest title “The Witch’s Box.”

If you are not already a listener to internet radio, you will need to download an app, e.g. TuneIn (for PC).


“Welcome to the website of Chat and Spin Radio! The home of MORE MUSIC and MORE VARIETY. Listen to us on the go via our app and on the Tune In Radio app. We are a 24 hour Internet Radio Station Broadcasting over 6 years covering UK Local, National & International with our Head Office based in Tyne & Wear. We interview Book Authors / Bands / Singers / Charities / Businesses / Groups.”

New editions of ‘Nigel Lurch: Anarchist

A second edition of ‘Nigel Lurch: Anarchist’ by “Jeff Bain” has been released in e-book and paperback formats, with a new cover.

‘Nigel Lurch: Anarchist’ is a comic novel with fantasy elements, about an unruly British student.

Available from Amazon.