The Balkans: nationalism, war, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999

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Viking, 2000 - History - 726 pages
23 Reviews
In a timely, passionate survey of Balkan history since the early nineteenth century Misha Glenny provides 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 affecting today's conflicts.

If you ever wondered why Lord Byron died in a remote place called Missolonghi, or exactly what a Young Turk is, or why bullett fired by a Serbian nationalist in the provincial backwater Sarajevo started World War I -- it's all here: from the First Serbian uprising in 1804 to the latest Serbian shenanigans in Kosovo earlier this year. 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 studded with sharply observed set pieces and portraits of kings, guerillas, 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.

It is the latter relationship that lies at the heart of this compulsively-readable book. Glenny shows how great-power influence in the region has been catastrophic for the people of the Balkans, and how so-called "ancient hatreds" and "tribal rivalries" have often been intensified by ignorant diplomats in far-away capitals, creating states, allocating populations andredrawing borders -- with deadly results. It remains to be seen, Glenny argues in a terse epilogue, whether the most recent western intervention will have a more benign outcome.

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excellent! required reading.

Review: The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999

User Review  - George Hodgson - Goodreads

A very detailed account. For those interested in why things are happening in the Baltics, this helps explain a lot. Read full review


A confederacy of peasants
The realm of ruins
A maze of conspiracy

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About the author (2000)

Misha Glenny was educated at Bristol University in England and Charles University in Prague. He is also the author of "The Rebirth of History," "The Fall of Yugoslavia "(which won the Overseas Press Club Award in 1993 for Best Book on Foreign Affairs), and "The Balkans, 1804"-"1999." During the early 1990s he was the central Europe correspondent for the BBC World Service, and in 1993 he won a Sony Award for his coverage of Yugoslavia. He has contributed to most major U.S. and European newspapers and current affairs magazines and is regularly consulted by U.S. and European governments on Balkan issues. Misha Glenny lives in London.

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