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Selected by Chris Patten in the Sunday Telegraph as ‘the novel which shows the best grasp of political life’.


1967, the Colonels have seized power in Greece and are brutally determined to hold onto it. Vangelis, an obstinate young lawyer, and his wife Chryssa, are slowly drawn into the resistance movement. Their English journalist friend is committed to telling the world about events in terrorized Greece. The Junta’s cynical disregard for people and laws forces Michael and Chryssa together and sends Chryssa to her brother-in-law, a junior minister in the National Government, for help…


Their personal drama is played out against an increasingly sinister and violent background of power politics. Coup d’Etat is a masterly analysis of the human motives that lead to tyranny, feed it – and ultimately destroy it.

‘What is important for us Greeks is that a foreign author wanted and was able to recount the terrible experience that we have gone through as a nation and as individuals.’  MANOLIS ANDRONIKOS, Vima


Impressive, compelling . . . it is a fine work . . . tense, exciting and significant.  ALLAN MASSIE, Scotsman


Many causes are lost in the course of the novel: on the barricades, in the bedroom, on the battlefield, but never in the heart. John Harvey cares very much for his people. He writes with feeling but without sentimentality, in sorrow as well as anger, without the distortion of melodrama. There is great strength in this moving and extremely readable novel, and great hope.  Times


‘Impressive story-telling . . . The unerring quality of the writing makes it an enormously compelling book.’  Standard


‘A remarkably sensitive and observant political novel. A synopsis does no justice to the painstaking cleverness of his imagination, and his dexterous mixing of actual incidents with fictional narrative.’  Canberra Times


‘John Harvey has shown us what the novel can and should be in our time. He undertook an enormous task, and has constructed a novel of accomplished craftsmanship to carry it out. It is moving and harrowing: and it is sound.’  DAVID HOLBROOK, Authenticity and the Novel


‘Masterfully constructed out of recent history, evocative of Greece in mood and flavor, Coup D'Etat seeks out and illuminates the depths of a nation's character, becoming both a gripping political drama and a tragic, modern story of love under totalitarianism.’  Kirkus Review

‘A compulsively readable narrative of quite considerable power that succeeds in unravelling the sometimes labyrinthine background to modern Greek politics.’  Tribune

‘Moments of intense suffering and intense tenderness are treated with equal sensitivity by John Harvey in this fine novel.’  Greek Review International

‘A ripping read.’  Brisbane Daily Sun

Editions: Collins, 1985; Athenaeum (USA), 1985; Fontana, 1986, 1990. In Greek translation: Harlennic Hellas (Best Seller Bell), 1985. To be reissued by Holland House Books in paperback and kindle 2019-20.

John Harvey podcast: Coup d'Etat

Holland House Books have produced a series of podcasts in which John Harvey discusses his separate novels. This podcast explores the novels Coup d'Etat

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