A painstaking, incisive account of the 1922 devastation of Smyrna and the events, both accidental and collusive, leading up to it, in which the effects –one and a half million died– are quietly assessed and the blame is not so quietly conferred.
Diaries, personal accounts, letters and other writings (including those of reporter Hemingway) document the looting, murder and burning. Mobs of starving, terrified, sometimes dying non-Turks crowded the shores, attempting to wade out to ships anchored in uneasy neutrality. Miss Housepian records heroism also, in the gathering force of a generally inadequate rescue effort — men and women who broke through obstacles placed by wily to laggard foreign governments, by companies rescuing cargo before people, by the official standoffs of some of the press. According to this author — and she is most convincing — the Turks burned while those who could have helped looked the other way; it is a scholarly indictment.