Submitted to AHEPAN, a magazine published quarterly by the Order of AHEPA [American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association in Washington, DC.. This book
review appeared in the Winter 2009 issue, on page 11.
"Demetrios Is Now Jimmy:" Greek Immigrants In The Southern United States, 1895-
In the context of mass migration from eastern and southern Europe, around the turn of the twentieth century, "Demetrios Is Now Jimmy" specifically
examines the arrival of Greek immigrants to the southern cities of the United States and the newcomers' remarkably rapid adjustment to life in the developing New South.
By and large, Greeks in the South tended to earn their living by operating
small service businesses, such as sandwich shops, shoe-
The author's chapter on the formation of the AHEPA, during the rise of the second
Ku Klux Klan, is most engaging, as he describes for us the ingenious way founders
of our fraternal organization managed to deflect the nativist hate for all that is
foreign. Other chapters cover a variety of Greek immigrant experiences in diverse
southern cities, including Atlanta, Birmingham, and New Orleans, where one finds
the earliest Greek Orthodox parishes in the South, and Tarpon Springs, where Greek
sponge divers populate the only "Greek-
"Demetrios Is Now Jimmy" is a well written, informative, and stimulating book, that will appeal to all readers interested in Greek American chronicles. This work fits nicely into the gap between Theodore Saloutos’s wide ranging The Greeks in the United States and Charles Moskos's Greek Americans: Struggle and Success on one hand and a few local histories that describe immigrant circumstances in particular cities in the South. Odzak’s work is marked by excellent detail, yet it also gives a much needed overview of the whole “southern” experience.
Reviewer: ANDREW A. CHRISTAKOS, Historian
Past President of AHEPA Chapter #277
The Charter (a publication of the Friends of North Carolina Archives)
In August 2006, Monograph Publishers of Durham, N.C., published archivist Larry
Odzak’s new book “Demetrios Is Now Jimmy:” Greek Immigrants in the Southern United
“Demetrios Is Now Jimmy” explores in part the mass migration into the United states from southern and eastern Europe; specifically, the work explores the arrival of Greek immigrants to the southern urban areas, and their remarkably rapid adjustment to life in the New South. The book contains an extensive overview of the historiography dealing with the perennial process faced by every immigrant – the process of “becoming an American.” The adaptation and acculturation of newcomers to life in America involved a constant conflict, seen in members of every ethnic group: a desire to be accepted into the social and economic fabric of the new country, as well as an impulse to maintain and preserve the inherited culture and traditions.
“Demetrios Is Now Jimmy” also reveals the other side of the coin. A generation or two later, Americans of Greek origin still struggle to maintain their heritage and to show it to advantage by way of ubiquitous Greek festivals, where for at least two or three days a year one can feast on traditional Greek food and music, and enjoy the displays and exhibitions portraying the Hellenic and Byzantine past.
The book can be purchased directly from the publisher for $24.95 (in NC add
$1.68 sales tax): Monograph Publishers, 204 Pineview Road, Suite 1, Durham, NC 27707.
For additional information, please e-
Reviewer: Glenda Montague
Office of Archives and History
NC Department of Cultural Resources
Raleigh, North Carolina
The North Carolina Historical Review Volume 84, No. 1, January 2007; pp.115-
"Demetrios Is Now Jimmy" is an insightful study that explores the seldom analyzed
world of Greek immigrants in the South. The book focuses on the South as a whole,
examining the broad patterns of Greek immigration and assimilation.... testing a
hypothesis put forward by sociologist Charles Moskos, [who] seeks to understand the
reasons behing the "accelerated assimilation" that occurred within [Greek] communities
[in the South]. He also examines the manner in which Greek immigrants and their
descendants preserved their traditions and customs while adjusting to life below
....... waves of new immigrants hitting the shores of the United States included
four hundred thousand Greeks who entered the country between 1890 and 1921 (p. 9).
Yet while the Greek presence in the South grew, it remained relatively small in
comparison to its counterpart in the North. By 1910, Greek populations in the South
(except for the Tarpon Springs community) typically ranged from a low of 80 migrants
in Augusta, Georgia, to a high of 550 inhabitants in New Orleans (p. 21). Clearly,
the South's limited industrial activity deterred Greeks from moving to the region.
Yet, as Odzak points out, hardworking Greek immigrants discovered opportunities
in the New South. After moving to southern cities, Greeks quickly developed economic
niches in their new communities and worked as fruit vendors, grocers, bootblacks,
and restaurateurs. These activities allowed them to establish a foothold.....and
pursue even greater entrepreneurial activities. Far from being part of the faceless,
impoverished masses toiling in urban factories, Greek immigrants in the South became
....... Odzak's study makes it clear that not all Greeks endorsed business leaders'
efforts to craft a homogeneous Greek-
Reviewer: John Olszowka
The NATIONAL HERALD, May 26, 2007, book review section "BOOKS" [The National Herald is a weekly publication with its head offices in New York, NY and Athens, Greece]
In this issue we review four non-
Several themes emerged from these books....immigrants faced virulent prejudice
when they came here at the beginning of the 20th century. They worked at backbreaking
menial jobs to put bread on the table and help their families back in Greece. (We
didn't become one of the best-
I invite you to read these books...
Elaine Thomopoulos, managing editor.
"Demetrios Is Now Jimmy" follows academic conventions. The author sorts through a considerable corpus of scholarly works on immigration and ethnicity, whose citations are dispersed throughout the book. A readable account, the book provides useful archival information and oral testimonies on regional history. Comparative in scope, it dedicates whole chapters to immigrant adaptations in cities such as New Orleans, Birmingham, and Tarpon Springs. Furthermore, a chapter exploring the "Formation and Development of Greek immigrant Communities in the American South" includes discussions and comparisons of the cases of Atlanta, Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, Raleigh, and Mobile.
The book discusses the transformation of the Southern Greeks from immigrants
to ethnic Americans through "selective adaptation." The argument here is that immigrant
adaptations must be seen as a process of acculturation, not wholesale assimilation.
A key to the selective retention and inter-
..... A particular research question animates the author's project. The primary
goal is to test the hypothesis known as the "Southern variant" of the Greek immigrant
experience. First proposed by sociologist Charles Moskos, the hypothesis states,
"Greeks in the South achieved residential and economic upward mobility faster and
in greater proportion than Greeks elsewhere in the United States." Odzak builds
on empirical evidence to prove that this hypothesis is true in regards to self-
..... One of the author's contributions rests in showing how erroneous it is
to explain ethnic success on the basis of cultural values alone. The discussion
makes it clear that one must account how other variables in the host society -
..... The author sets himself the ambitious goal of covering 70 years of Greek immigrant adaptation in the South. But his discussion of the second and third generation is way too general and often sketchy. The aim to identify historical patterns and to paint history with broad strokes occludes particular events, everyday situations and minute incidents that do not fit the general pattern. ..... A number of questions could guide future research. Did sectors within the immigrant community in the South (women, the working class, or wage laborers who eventually became small business owners, for example) hold alternative visions of success? Did they resist racism and its cultural counterpart, 100% Americanism, embracing alternate visions of a socially and economically just American society?
Reviewer: Dr. Yiorgos Anagnostou
Associate Professor, Modern Greek Program
Ohio State University
The Journal Of Southern History February 2008, Vol. 74 [#1], pp. 211-
"Demetrios Is Now Jimmy:" Greek Immigrants in the Southern United States, 1895-
Ah, the book I wanted to write -
The introductory chapter sets out the author's purpose and situates his work
in the context of general and Greek immigration studies. Odzak successfully tests
Theodore Saloutos's thesis that entrepreneurial contact with native-
There is much to commend in this work. Odzak writes well and backs up his prose
with very thorough research. He shows clearly that Greek immigrants astutely capitalized
on the increasing need for services in the New South era. Many avoided industrial
labor, for example, in Birmingham's steel mills, and operated small businesses like
restaurants and fruit stands. He also demonstrates how dealing with the non-
Certain questions, however, may point to some weaknesses. Odzak describes
the formation of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA)
as a self-
To date very little has been published on Greek Orthodoxy in the Bible Belt,
and Odzak makes a useful contribution in that area. His treatment is largely institutional,
focusing on the ways that parishes maintained differing religious, geographical,
and political ties to the homeland. In discussing Orthodoxy in the American South,
however, the author would have better served his readers by asking how Greeks' traditional
faith made peace (or failed to) with southern evangelical culture. Writing about
Birmingham's Reverend Sotirios "Sam" Gouvellis, who openly opposed George Wallace
and supported Martin Luther King in the mid-
Reviewer: Andrew M. Manis
Macon State College