Some of you have read “The Greek Connection: The Life of Elias Demetracopoulos and the Untold Story of Watergate” by James H. Barron. Receiving critical acclaim internationally, my husband’s book, the product of ten years of research and writing, was published in the summer of 2020. It was in the midst of the first wave of the Covid pandemic, the worst book launch timing in more than a century, notable for the cancellation of book tours, the closing of book shops and libraries, and the shutting down of traditional promotional campaigns. But now there’s good news.
Today the focus shifts to Athens, where the Greek edition is launching. The title in Greek is “The Key Man: Elias Demetracopoulos and his fight for democracy from the Occupation and the turbulent years of dictatorship through the restoration of democracy.” It’s an updated story of a controversial journalist relentlessly battling for democracy, honor and survival against abusive Greek and American governments trying to destroy him.
This June marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. In 1968, Demetracopoulos worked hard to expose the story of the illegal transfer of cash from the Greek CIA to the Nixon campaign– those funds having originated from the American CIA through its “black budget” strategy. Part of what the burglars were looking for in June, 1972 was evidence of the bombshell information Elias had given to DNC chairman Larry O’Brien. But, contrary to the subtitle the American publisher insisted upon, the Watergate story is just a small part of the journalist’s life, which includes his roles as a heroic young teenager in the Greek resistance against the Germans, an activist fighting the military dictatorship that usurped Greek democracy, and an independent reporter exposing wrongdoing in both Greek and American governments. For years, they harassed him through disinformation campaigns and, worse, attempts to eliminate him.
It’s a remarkable story that reminds us, in a timely way, that the fight for democracy is never over, either abroad or here at home. We remember that one courageous individual, against great odds, can make a difference. But being brave and principled can entail great sacrifice and profound personal risks—to career, to family and even to life itself. Think about journalists gunned down in an apartment elevator in St. Petersburg apartment building, (Anna Politkovskaya), on a highway outside of Dublin ( Veronica Guerin) and dismembered at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul (Jamal Khashoggi).
Summoning up one’s courage and leadership skills in the face of existential danger is why the world so admires Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Speaking truth to overwhelming power is no small feat. At Elias Demetracopoulos’ funeral in 2016, Apostolos Kaklamanis, the longest-serving President of the Greek Parliament in modern times pointed to Elias’s life as an inspiration— not only for young journalists who never knew him, –but for citizens everywhere. Now, thanks to Kaktos Publications in Athens, readers of Greek also have access to his remarkable saga. Please share this post with your friends.