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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

During the Greek-Italian conflict of World War II, Dr. Theodore Electris, newly married and idealistic, was called up to the Greek-Italian front in the remote mountains of Albania. Homesick, hungry and desperately missing his young wife, Chrysoula, he kept an intimate journal to preserve his experiences for her. Translated by his daughter, Helen Electrie Lindsay, Electris’s entries and letters come together in Written on the Knee. Fully illustrated and accompanied by supporting reference material, the collection serves as both an authentic historical document of Greek involvement in WWII and a story of love, separation and family ties threatened and strengthened by war. Often overlooked in the scope of WWII, Greece’s six-month conflict with Mussolini’s forces played a pivotal role in the war’s outcome. The small country’s fierce resistance against the Italians delayed Hitler’s move into the Soviet Union, which many historians believe turned the war in favor of the Allies. Fr…

Written on the Knee

by Dr. Theodore Electris

Overall Book Review:

I am not usually one to enjoy a memoir or biography, however, Written on the Knee had me entranced from the first entry!  I learned not only a great deal about a part of WWII that I hadn’t even known existed, but I also learned a little of the culture of the Greek people of that time.  You can easily tell that Dr. Electris is not an author by trade, but that perhaps is what lends so much charm to his musings.  His whole focus is on his home, his wife, the beautiful countryside.  There are many references to the war going on around him, but he keeps a positive outlook through it all.  He always gives such lovely and heartfelt descriptions of the land around him, and you can feel of his deep love and longing for his home and his new wife.  The letters that are written by his wife, Chrysoula, are lovely as well.  Very poetic and full of life and love.

I loved watching his internal transformation as he undergoes such hardships and horrific circumstances: hunger, exhaustion, anger, frustration, depravation, loneliness, fear and worry for himself and for his loved ones, and death all around him.  He begins to see the magnificence of simple pleasures, such as milk, socks, oranges, rice, letters from home, or a raincoat as a blanket!  There is a freshness and even an innocence to these diary entries, and yet they tell so much.  I think we so often forget that even a war goes on day by day, minute by minute, and there are experiences that fill each of those days and minutes!  In the words of Chrysoula: “…–and so time flies in the midst of moments of tears and boredom and consolation and hope.” 

The layout of this book is lovely and informative.  There are maps (both in color and in black and white), pictures throughout the diary itself, and all kinds of background information about the war and regions round about.  At the end, there are even more pertinent stories, poems, and even some very clever political cartoons and propaganda!  All of it was very fascinating.  If you are at all interested in the Mediterranean area of the world or in Greek or WWII history, this is for you.  Romantic and endearing, simple and unassuming, Written on the Knee is a beautiful memory of a period that should not be forgotten.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scarletta Press

Content Analysis:

Written on the Knee is a diary of a war, and as such, there is violence.  However, being the diary of a doctor, instead of trying to incite empathy through his vivid detail, all violence is presented very matter-of-factly which makes it appear more as background information.  There are multiple air raids, battles between enemies and skirmishes between friends, deaths of both soldiers and animals, and many wounded, but none of these are described—it is wholly without shock value.  There were two instances where he passes some dead soldiers and lightly describes the scene, but he spares most of the details.  More often than not, his details revolve around the sounds and the feelings (such as the earth trembling during bombs, or the fear felt during raids).  The diary section I would consider to be Squeaky Clean.  In the additional sections, however, there are much more details and particulars on the war including specific massacres, conditions during the German occupation, and numbers of the dead and executed in Greece.  There is a picture of some children (in the nude) during a famine. 

There were less than 10 instances of profanity, and they were all very mild. 

There was only one very mild instance of sexual content when two characters are reunited—it is a one sentence reference and is very sweet and clean. 

Mature Subject Matter:

The themes revolve around war: fear and worry, separation from home and loved ones, and the rigors of war. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I read anything and everything. I love the smell of books. My kids giggle at me when I open a new box of books from Amazon and I inhale the new pages and rub the shiny new spine against my face! 🙂 My husband just rolls his eyes at me and is grateful he has me on a budget! 🙂