Paradise Lost tells the forgotten story of the sack of Smyrna, once the most opulent and cosmopolitan city in the Ottoman Empire.
In September, 1922, the Turkish cavalry swept into Smyrna - the crowning triumph to their three year war with Greece.
The city’s Christian inhabitants feared that the newly-victorious Turkish army would now unleash a terrible fury.
Yet most were confident that the 21 Allied ships in the bay - British, American and French - would protect them.
Within ten days of the Turkish army’s arrival, Smyrna had ceased to exist. ‘Smyrna Wiped Out’ was the headline in the New York Times. It was not hyperbole: it was a bold statement of fact.
Paradise Lost is a tale of greed, brutality and cynical realpolitik. It is also a story of extraordinary heroism. One man - an American named Asa Jennings - was to save the lives of 250,000 desperate refugees.
It was the greatest humanitarian rescue mission of the early 20th century.
Paradise Lost is a unique work of historical narrative. It is drawn from the hitherto unknown diaries and journals of Levantine Smyrna and recreates the twilight world of the doomed city.
‘A compelling story… Milton's considerable achievement is to deliver with characteristic clarity and colour this complex epic narrative, Milton brings a commendable impartiality to his thoroughly researched book.’ Jeremy Seal, The Daily Telegraph.
‘It is the lives of the [Levantine] dynasties, recorded in their diaries and letters, that form the focus for Giles Milton’s brilliant re-creation of the last days of Smyrna…. Milton has written a grimly memorable book about one of the most important events in this process. It is well paced, even-handed and cleverly focused: through the prism of the Anglo-Levantines, he reconstructs both the pre-war Edwardian glory of Smyrna and its tragic end. He also clears up, once and for all, who burnt Smyrna, producing irrefutable evidence that the Turkish army brought in thousands of barrels from the Petroleum Company of Smyrna and poured them over the streets and houses of all but the Turkish quarter.' William Dalrymple, The Sunday Times.
‘The informed and scholarly author spares few details and brings it all alarmingly alive. I warmly recommend this book.’ Nicholas Bagnall, The Sunday Telegraph.
‘Giles Milton's engrossing account of the events leading up to the destruction of the city in 1922 is based largely on the previously unpublished letters and diaries of these Levantine dynasties. Milton's book celebrates the heroism of individuals who put lives before ideologies.' Alev Adil, The Independent.
‘An indictment of nationalism … Milton has gone where biographers of Ataturk and historians of Turkey, who often want Turkish official support, have feared to tread. He has reproduced accounts by individual Armenian, Greek and foreign eye-witnesses, as well as British sailors’ and consuls’ accounts. It is a much needed corrective to official history.' Philip Mansel, The Spectator.
‘Milton brings the past alive in this vivid, detailed and poignant book by drawing on family letters and archives, and first-hand interviews with those elderly survivors who remember Smyrna’s glory days.’ Adam le Bor, The Literary Review.