How do you write a book by mistake? I am still trying to sort this
one out. In 2010, I began research for a different project on the ac-
tivities of a communist- era women’s committee in Bulgaria. This
was going to be my fourth book on this small, southeast European
country, but it would be my first about life before 1989. Spending
time in the archives in the capital city of Sofia was a nice change
of pace from the rural fieldwork I had done before. As I lost my-
self in the boxes and folders of documents, I became obsessed with
the past. For me this past had a specific face—that of Major Frank
Thompson, a twenty- three-year-old British officer sent to Bulgaria
to help support a local partisan resistance force against the coun-
try’s pro- German monarchy in 1944. But this interest in World
War II guerrillas was tangential to my project. I never intended to
write a book about it.
The beginning of this new archival research, however, coincided
with the start of the Greek anti- austerity riots. While I tried to lose
myself in historical records, the ongoing political chaos in Bul-
garia’s southern neighbor kept distracting me. In April 2012, a
seventy-seven-year-old retired pharmacist committed suicide in
Athens. Dimitris Christoulas shot himself in the head in the middle
of Syntagma Square just across from the Greek parliament. Civil
unrest in Greece intensified as the ex- pharmacist became another
martyr of the Eurozone crisis. In his suicide note, Christoulas com-
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