Meteora XXIII
Photo of Meteora by Daniel Skoog used under a Creative Commons license.

Patrick Leigh Fermor, Roumeli (NYRB, 2006).
Now knighted and in his nineties, Leigh Fermor first made his way to Greece in the 1930s, after walking from Holland to Istanbul, or, as he calls it Constantinople.  During World War II he fought in the British Army in Greece and with the resistance on Crete.  He still lives in the Mani, and one could not hope for a more engaging and informed guide to the country and culture, Hellenic and Byzantine.  Unlike Mani, which explored a particular corner of the Peloponnese, different chapters of Roumeli relate travels all over the country: with the Sarakatsan shepherds, the monasteries of Meteora, during wartime in the mountain villages of Crete, in the villages of Krakora, and to Missilonghi, where he tried to recover a pair of Lord Byron’s slippers.    

Wikipedia has this bio of Leigh Fermor. Google BookSearch offers a preview. Ben Downing writes about Fermor in The New Criterion. William Dalrymple visited him recently. James Campbell profiles him in The Guardian.  Jeremy Bernstein profiles him in the Los Angeles Times.  Max Hastings profiles him in the Telegraph. Mary Beard reviews Roumeli and two of Fermor’s other books in the London Review of Books.  Heather likes Leigh Fermor’s wonderfully precise prose.  Marie found it too turgid.  Languagehat traces some archetypes of the Greek temperament back to Roumeli.  Maggie Rainey-Smith describes meeting Leigh Fermor.  Typoios posts a favorite passage; Ptolemy has one too.  Here is more about the Sarakatsani and the monasteries of Meteora.

Buy it at