New book about Malta-Greek connection
Ships, Wines and Wars, by John Dacoutros is a very special history book of interest to all those fascinated by the Greek connection to Malta.
It relates briefly the history of Greece and in particular of Santorini Island and its wines during the past 180 years, in parallel with what was happening in Malta during the same period.
It describes the origins, lives and businesses of various Greek families including the author’s own family and the shipping businesses which existed, each with their own individual story. The book includes pictures of the 21 ships that the author’s grandfather had and what he did with each one of them and eventually what happened to each. It also describes his charitable work, which included many poor widows with children whose fathers had died drowned or killed during the wars. Giovanni Dacoutros kept all those families and many times, he married off the poor girls who had no money, enabling to have a marriage ceremony and to buy their wedding clothes. His gift to all these girls was always a clock as he was fascinated by clocks. His son Peter sponsored one student per year to learn clock making at the Society of Manufactures and Commerce. He also bought all the candles and church requirements for the Orthodox Church and considered this Church his own.
His life and family are also featured as well as all the Greek families which existed up to the mid 20th century, including the tobacco industrialists, who were mainly Greeks. It explains why they all came to Malta during the terrible wars which raged between Greece and Turkey.
Greek shipping of the mid 20th Century is also described in detail with the protagonists being Onassis, Livanos, Niarcos, Nomikos and eventually the Kennedys, who later became involved with Onassis. It is interesting to note that some shipping magnates competed with their women and the lengths of their yachts.
Malta’s history features as well and there is a chapter about the bread riots and two chapters about the first and second world wars, with references to Malta and the Maltese and in particular, how these affected our Greek shipping.
The Borg Olivier and the Mintoff eras are briefly described where they affected the Greek business.
The book has a good chapter about the origins of Malta’s banks which few people know about, and about the many breweries and drink factories that existed during the last 150 years.
A very educational chapter at the end explains all the stamps and coins of Malta that at various intervals featured Maltese ships on them.