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