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George Psychoundakis

George Psychoundakis (1920–2006) was born and raised in the remote Cretan village of Asi Gonia, where he received a rudimentary education. When the German army invaded in 1941, he left his work as a shepherd and joined the Resistance. He would eventually run messages for the British Special Operations Executive, and was noted for his speed and intimacy with the landscape. After the war he was mistakenly imprisoned as a deserter and began writing what would become The Cretan Runner (published in English in 1955 and in Greek in 1986) while in prison. In addition to his memoir, Psychoundakis wrote The Eagle’s Nest, a study of the customs of Cretan mountain dwellers, and translated works by Hesiod and Homer into the Cretan language. In 1945 Psychoundakis received the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service, and in 1981 he was recognized by the Academy of Athens for his translations. He lived on Crete, with his wife and three children, until the end of his life.