"In a survey of Balkan history since the early nineteenth century, Misha Glenny provides the essential background to recent events in this war-torn area. No other book covers the entire region and offers such profound insights into the roots of Balkan violence or explains so vividly the origins of modern Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. Many readers will welcome the author's insights into the final century of Ottoman rule, a complex and colorful period essential for understanding today's conflicts." "Glenny's account of each national group in the Balkans and its struggle for statehood is lucid and fair-minded, and he brings the culture of different nationalisms to life. The narrative is permeated with sharply observed set pieces and portraits of kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals and politicians. He interweaves a narrative of key events with the story of international affairs - the relations between states in the Balkans and between them and the great powers."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
"Bismarck famously dismissed Balkan wars as not "worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier," yet quite a few bones of Pomeranian and other soldiers are buried there. Why the great powers of today, blandly known as the "international community," see fit to intervene in the Balkans is a question with which Glenny, Ignatieff, and Judah all grapple. Glenny's opus is an instructive backgrounder on Balkan history. The peninsula's modern history is a consequence of the recession of Ottoman power that began with the Serbian revolt of 1804 and concluded with Turkish defeat in the First Balkan War of 1912. Glenny explains that after each rebellion or war during those 100-plus years, the neighboring great powers intruded to shape the demarcation of frontiers and the establishment of states. Where ethnic groups and religions were so intimately intertwined, where chauvinistic nationalism was the burgeoning sentiment, and where lethal intrigue was the primary political style, the great powers' adjudications invariably created as many dissatisfactions as they remedied. Subversive groups proliferated, producing what one chapter title denominates "A Maze of Conspiracy." Many conspiracies succeeded, included the assassination that ignited World War I, and when war was afoot, as it often was when territorial aggrandizement was in the saddle (dreams of a "greater" country have bewitched Bulgarians, Romanians, Greeks, Serbs, Croats, and Albanians), massacre has repeatedly followed. Essential reading for understanding the region's most recent paroxysm of war and intervention. The most recent convulsion has made Kosovo a household word worldwide. In essays about NATO's air war against Serbia, Ignatieff describes the roles of central figures in it: diplomat Richard Holbrooke, General Wesley Clark, and prosecutor Louise Arbour, the indictor of Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. Ignatieff tosses in vignettes of his visit to an Albanian Kosovar refugee camp, his postwar sojourn to friends in Belgrade, and his debate-by-letter with economist Robert Skidelsky over the morality of waging war for human rights. Allowing that he supports such wars, Ignatieff yet identifies worrisome ramifications of America's capability for waging them with virtual impunity. Like his previous books, this one thoughtfully ruminates over the nuances of asserting moral superiority in international affairs. Moving from generalities to specifics of the Kosovo situation, Judah details the province's development into a flashpoint of ethnic conflict during the 1990s. Drawing on his experience there as a journalist for British publications, Judah narrates the deeds of parties to the conflict, ranging from Milosevic to Ibrahim Rugova to obscure gunmen in the nascent Kosovo Liberation Army. Those who tracked the 1999 crisis in the media but who want more background than was typically provided will appreciate his work as an informative supplement. --Gilbert Taylor"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Combining a thoughtful approach with an elegant style, Glenny (The Fall of Yugoslavia) has built a reputation as one of the leading journalists covering the Balkans. This latest book grew out of the author's realization that he needed to better understand Balkan history in order to make sound judgments on current events and to escape what he claims is a pervasive mythologizing of the region by Westerners. He argues that we need to bury the idea that the Balkan peoples are locked into a politics characterized by blood and revenge. Rather than look to the "ancient hatreds" so often cited by many Western journalists, Glenny frames his survey within the context of the Great Powers' mischievous and often destructive role in shaping Balkan affairs during the past two centuries. Both the time frame and the subject make for a gripping and accessible narrative, suitable for the interested general reader or student, but at the significant cost of ignoring other crucial background to the present crises. Economic history, geography, demographics--all important factors in Balkan developments--receive little attention. Premodern history, so crucial to an understanding of the modern era, is shortchanged. But, after all, the Balkans are a thankless subject for the observer--chaotic, complex, contradictory, even undefinable. Despite its shortcomings, Glenny's study offers a timely comment on Western intervention in Balkan affairs. In the wake of NATO's bombing in Serbia, he reminds us of the often disastrous effects of international intervention, and he warns that once intervention has taken place, the intervening forces must finish the job by securing peace and stability on the ground. Maps. History Book Club selection; 4-city author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved