A Normal Life is the autobiography of Vassilis Palaiokostas, known to the public as the “Greek Robin Hood,” to police as “The Uncatchable.” His is an illegalist existence lived in defiance of the police and of the state, and for decades, it has been a life lived as a fugitive.
In Greece he has become a household name, a modern folk hero of sorts, taking millions in bank raids — including the famous Kalambaka heist, Greece’s biggest ever — and ransoming CEOs whilst distributing his gains to those who needed it. But he is most famous for his prison breakouts — infamously escaping the high-security wing of Korydallos Prison by helicopter.
Vassilis Palaiokostas is hated by the authorities, deemed a terrorist, his freedom a continued insult to the Greek State. Now his memoir, an instant bestseller in Greece, has been translated to English for the first time so he can tell his story in his own words. He does not offer any mealy-mouthed, “socially acceptable” justifications for his actions, but honestly elaborates his motivations and dreams and their totality.
A Normal Life is a gripping account of life on the run and in jail, of car chases, daring escapades and the camaraderie of the bandit. It is also the story of his motivations.
The Uncatchable (BBC Long Read):
“The 1980s flew by in a blur of bank raids and capers, with Vassilis distributing the proceeds to anyone who sheltered him … Massive inflation in Greece saw the price of a beer quadruple between 1985 and 1992. The public grew more distrustful of government, and critical of corruption inside the state-run banks. This swelled the numbers of those prepared to cheer on the roguish Paleokostas brothers. An era of cat and mouse between the cops and the robbers began.”
“It was Vassilis’ view of treating even the worst of people with humanity which gave Haitoglou his sense of security. It didn’t take long for the magnate to assess the situation and realise he would be treated with a respect that, frankly, he did not afford others in his role as financier and friend to the reactionaries of Political Spring … When they dropped him off, Vassilis remembers, Haitoglou left them with a joke: ‘Guys, if only it didn’t cost that much, I’d very much like to have another adventure with you’!”