Author uncovers untold stories from Balkan Wars
by Samantha Galvez-Montiel
Sep 03, 2020 | 2216 views | 0 0 comments | 128 128 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Peter S. Giakoumis recently published “The Forgotten Heroes of the Balkan Wars: Greek-Americans and Philhellenes 1912-1913,” which offers a fresh look at history.

“It’s the only book ever written on the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 from the Greek-American perspective,” the Maspeth resident said, pointing out the unique premise of his non-fiction book. “My primary goal was to give the forgotten Greek-American heroes and their supporters, the Philhellenes, a voice.”

Presented for the first time is the true tale of a forgotten Greek-American regiment of soldiers, volunteers from all over the U.S. who traveled to the front lines of the Balkan Wars.

Most stayed in their regiment, while some served under General Ricciotti Garibaldi and his famous Red-Shirt Legion. Others served in the Greek infantry, witnessing unprecedented forms of warfare, from airplanes and motor vehicles to heavy artillery, machine guns, and trench warfare.

Some even served alongside a retired American National Guard General who also volunteered for the Greek Army.

This is their story from beginning to end, using contemporary newspaper reports, letters from the front, official military narratives, and private archives never presented before.

Giakoumis began his research back in 2012, looking into obscure wars that led up to World War I, more specifically, the Balkan Wars.

“While looking into the military armies of the period, I stumbled onto a Bulgarian military book written in English focusing on the weapons and uniforms of the nations involved,” he explained. “That book, and an article on the internet mentioning Greek-Americans fighting in U.S. Army uniforms for Greece in 1912, held my attention.

“I mentioned it to my good friend professor Christopher Tripoulas, and he proposed I give a presentation at our local Greek-American community center based on my findings,” Giakoumis continued.

He recalls it was in the moments after that presentation that the journey toward writing his book began.

Tripoulous praises the book for its “rare insight” into the contributions of Greek-Americans to Greece’s victory in the war.

“Mr. Giakoumis offers an in-depth account of the heroism displayed by Greek migrants and the obstacles they had to overcome,” he said. “He also extols the special role played by Philhellenes in shaping this decisive moment in modern history. It’s a must-read for lovers of history and everyone who wants to further their appreciation of the sacrifices required to gain one’s liberty.”

The author shares his two favorite parts of the book: discovering that Greek-Americans fought for Greece while wearing their surplus U.S. Army uniforms, and the role of retired National Guard Brigadier General Thomas S. Hutchison and his part in supporting the Greek nation.

According to Giakoumis, he had the fortune of meeting with Hutchison’s descendants, who subsequently granted him access to the general’s personal archive.

Giakoumis recalls his work passing through three major rewrites, which he describes as “one catastrophic computer crash, the corruption of my back-up hard drive, and a partial recovery and reconstruction of my book five years into the project.”

After a seven-and-a-half year process, the book is now available for purchase on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.
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