Apollo's Legacy: The Hellenic Torch in America at the Dawn of the New Millenium
By Effie Lascarides

Reviewed by Sophia Nibi
Apollo's Legacy Is for People Who Like to Read About People

When People Magazine first appeared on the news stands 25 years ago, newspaper publisher Robert Cabot, with whom I had a professional association as feature writer and editor for two of his four weeklies, predicted that the new publication would be a huge success. "Readers like to read about people--their achievements, their triumphs, their tragedies, everything about them," he said confidently. Time proved him right.

And so it would seem that a newly published book, a collection of 16 in-depth interviews conducted by journalist Effie Lascarides with "accomplished" Greek Americans would be very well received, especially within the Hellenic American community. Published by Hellenic College Press, Apollo's Legacy--The Hellenic Torch in America at the Dawn of the New Millennium aims to prove to the world that "great Hellenic accomplishments are not a thing of the distant past."

Most of the 16 achievers featured in the book are celebrities as well. Their names, photographs and "accomplishments" have appeared regularly in the press, the American press and the Greek American publications throughout the country: Prima Ballerina Helene Alexopoulos of the New York City Ballet was born and raised in Chicago. Helene's roots are in Epirus, Corinth and Messinia. Dr. Teni (Parthenis) Boulikas is the Founder, Chairman, President and CEO of "Regulon, Inc.", the Founder of the International Society for Gene Therapy and Molecular Biology and the Founder and President of the publishing house "Gene Therapy Press." Born and raised in Mytilene, Dr. Boullikas would love "to spend a whole year in Greece, in my beautiful island of Mytilene!" Peter Chrisanthopoulos, the President of Broadcast and Programming, USA, Ogilvy & Mather, grew up in New York City and attended the St. Spyridon (Manhattan) parochial school. "I'm very proud of that," he says. "I have one sister and loving parents. They instilled many of the traditional Hellenic values in us". Peter served on the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York. Philip Christopher, the President of Audiovox Communications Corp, was born in Cyprus and immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of ten. "I was devastated that in 1991 my mother died and in 1997 my father died and they both wanted so desperately to return back to their village and back to their home", he shares in the interview. Dr. Peter Diamandis is the Chairman, Founder of I.S.U. (International Space University), Founder, Chairman, President of "X" Prize Foundation, President and CEO of Angel Technologies. Dr. Diamandis was born in the Bronx to parents who immigrated to America from Mytilene. His wish is "that humanity would venture off to explore the moon, mars, and, beyong that, to the stars." Michael Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts and 1988 Presidential candidate, and currently Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and U.C.L.A., tells Effie Lascarides that though he has no future in elective politics he is "going to be as active as I possibly can. You know, even when you're out of office there are ways to make a real contribution." Gov. Dukakis' father, a native of Mytilene, was the first American-trained Greek-speaking doctor in Metropolitan Boston. His mother was born in Larissa. Chris Giftos is Master Floral Designer and Manager of Special Events at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He was born in Astoria, NY. and believes "in being at the right place at the right time and 'destiny'". He travels around the country lecturing and has also taught children with hearing disabilities. Evangeline Gouletas, the co-founder and co-chairperson of American Invsco and its Affiliates, and a former First Lady of New York State, describes herself as "Responsible, dynamic, compassionate, loving, sensitive, spiritual, well-balanced." She says that being a Hellene means everything to her. The Hon. Demetrios Giannaros is a Connecticut State Representative, and Professor of Economics at the University of Hartford. He was born in Samos and came to America with his family at the age of 14. Promoting a strong family is very important to him. His doctoral dissertation was on Greece and the impact of the European Economic Community on the Greek economy. Dr. George N. Hatsopoulos, the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Thermo Electron and Founder and Chairman and CEO of Pharos, LLC. was born in Athens with roots in Karpenissi. From a very early age, Dr. Hatsopoulos became conscious that scientists, as a rule, were not particularly successful businessmen. He was determined to succeed in both, and he did.

Dr. Marina Souretis Horner was President of Radcliffe College for 13 years. Now Executive Vice President for one of the world's largest financial services company, TIAA-CREF, Dr. Horner shares that she has a wonderful childhood, growing up in an extended family. "Both I and my children experienced the richness of having an extended family with many relatives. Having my Pappou and Yiayia living with us just enriched our lives tremendously," she says. Dr. Tom Maniatis is the first Thomas H. Lee Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. To his Hellenic roots (Peloponese) he attributes his good work ethic. "What I love about Greece," he says, "is the warmth and friendliness of the people and the fact that the cities as well as the countryside are so beautiful." Dr. Nikolaos Robakis is the first endowed Alfred P. Slaner Professor at Mount Sinai, School of Medicine in New York. He was born in Messinia. His wish for the new millennium is that there will finally be a cure for Alzheimer's! Alex Spanos, the Chairman of AGS Corporation and owner of The San Diego Chargers says, "..You gotta believe in yourself, you gotta know that you can do it!...You should never give up! I'm a staunch believer of that!" In 19951, within a five month period after leaving his father's business where he was earning $40.00 per week, Alex Spanos made $35,000.00 catering sandwiches to field workers and at the end of five years he made his first million. He believed in himself and he never gave up! George Stephanopoulos believes that public service is important and political life can be both rewarding and a form of life where you can make a real contribution. The Senior Presidential Advisor to President Clinton, George is enjoying his new career as a writer and analyst. The grandson and son of priests, George has a master's degree in theology. He feels that being the son of a Priest gave him a solid grounding in the Church and in the life of the Community. His roots are in Patras and the Peloponese. Dr. Roy P. Vagelos served as Chairman of Merck and Co., Chairman of the Board of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Advanced Medicine and President and CEO of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Dr. Vagelos who was trained at Massachusetts General Hospital in internal medicine with work in cardiology, is the grandson of a physician by whom he was influenced. From his grandfather he learned that taking care of people and patients was a good thing to do and going at it through research might be more effective than taking care of patients one at a time.

Apollo's Legacy is illustrated with photographs of the 16 individuals interviewed as children, with members of their families, and with the "famous". In color and black and white, there are photos of the interviewees with Archbishop Iakovos; with Prince Charles and Barbara Bush and Bill and Hillary Clinton; with Madeleine Albright and Martha Stewart; with designer George Stavropoulos and Nana Mouskouri; with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, George Papandreou and Kostas Simitis; with Bob Hope and Henry Kissinger; with Nancy Reagan and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and.... Readers who are familiar with the public lives of some of those included in Apollo's Legacy, will find it very interesting to learn the tidbits about their upbringing, their childhood years, their personal beliefs, their dreams and aspirations.

Reading Apollo's Legacy brings to mind those who are not included -- non-public figures, not famous, not celebrities, yet great contributors to all phases of American society. But then, Effie Lascarides admits that those included are "some very accomplished Greek Americans". She writes, "Perhaps there will be a second volume and a third volume, etc. and all those accomplished Greek-Americans that are missing from this book, will be in a future volume." A noble task, but I must remind Effie it is an impossible task. The word "accomplished" is almost synonymous with Greek Americans. Fortunately for our country, Americans of Hellenic roots are contributing in great numbers to society, too many to ever hope to include in a volume, or two, or three. Maybe a weekly Greek American People Magazine is what we need!!

Apollo's Legacy: The Hellenic Torch in America at the Dawn of the New Millenium is a personal and an encyclopedic volume. It includes resumes, curriculum vitae and biographies. It's an interesting book to read and to have in the home. It is available at the Holy Cross Bookstore at Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
Sophia Nibi lives and writes in Wellesley, MA