Suggested Reading: A New Biography for Hellenophiles


The British writer Patrick Leigh Fermor is surprisingly unknown in the United States. A few people have heard of his life-defining exploit — the capture of the general commanding Nazi occupying forces in Crete during World War II —a feat that achieved wider recognition thanks to a movie, “Ill Met by Moonlight.” But his books, though popular and respected in his native land, are to be found in relatively few American libraries. Once memorably described as “a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene,” Leigh Fermor led an extraordinary life, but through all its drama and complexity, there ran a constant theme: his passionate love of all things Greek. For many years, he lived in the southern Peloponnese, in a house he built himself outside the idyllic small port of Kardamyli , beneath the grand and rugged peaks of the Taygetus mountains. It is a region he brought memorably to life in his greatest book, “Mani.” (A sequel, “Roumeli,” is an account of later travels in northern Greece.) Leigh Fermor died in 2011 at the age of 96, and he is now the subject of a fascinating and elegantly written new biography, “Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure,” by Artemis Cooper.

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