SOCIETY

US Embassy and Runciman Award celebrate revolution’s bicentenary

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The US Embassy in Athens is launching a yearlong campaign to commemorate Greece’s 1821 War of Independence, US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt announced in an interview with state broadcaster ERT Thursday.

“US-Greek relations are the best they’ve been in modern history. Our friendship began during Greece’s war for independence and Greece’s 2021 bicentennial is an opportunity to celebrate this history and the values of liberty and democracy our peoples have defended for over 200 years,” he said.

The “USA & Greece: Celebrating 200 Years of Friendship” campaign is designed to support the efforts of the Greece 2021 Committee by providing partnering with Greek and American civil society, educational and arts institutions, and funding several events. It seeks to showcase the ancient Greek ideals of democracy that were an inspiration at the founding of the country and also to highlight the role that American Philhellenes played in Greece’s struggle for independence.

The rich program of events includes an entrepreneur mentorship, a science festival, an exhibition, two opera productions, and much more.

Program dates and details about specific programs will be available on the US Embassy website throughout the year at gr.usembassy.gov. 

Also Thursday, the judges of the prestigious Runciman Award for books about Greece have unveiled their long list of 21 titles for the 2021 installment of the event, which is scheduled to be held in London on June 17, as part of the UK’s celebration of the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence.

“This is a wonderful – and thrilling – long list. We have such an amazing range of books about Greece in all its forms and glories. The books we have chosen go from the siege of Troy to Herodotus through the Byzantine era to Greece in the Cold War and bohemian lives on 1960s Hydra. As we face weeks more locked down because of the pandemic, what a treat to be able to be able to dive into books written by some of the superstars of the academic and literary worlds,” Peter Frankopan, chair of judges and respected historian, said of the selection.

The Runciman Award has been run since 1983 by the Anglo-Hellenic League and seeks to reward the best book published in the previous year in English about Greece or on a Greek subject. The competition was not run in 2020, though a new sponsorship deal has been agreed, paving the way for this year’s event.

“It is great to be relaunching the Runciman Award in 2021, when we are celebrating the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence. I am delighted to welcome Peter Frankopan as chair of judges and Sofka Zinovieff as a new member on our panel,” said John Kittmer, chair of the League and UK ambassador to Greece from 2013 to 2016.