Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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"The Fall of Yugoslavia", Misha Glenny

June 5th, 2009 · No Comments · History, Politics

fallofyugoslaviaSynopsis: A German, Czech, Serbo-Croat and Greek speaking BBC war correspondent’s first hand account of the collapse of Yugoslavia and its descent into civil war.

My Take: A friend had recommended this book to me as a comprehensive account of recent history of the Balkans so on a sunny afternoon in Bosnia last year, I sat myself down under the Stari Most in Mostar with a pint of beer and started reading. I’ve no idea how accurate it is, but the book certainly sounded authoritative to an outsider and spread the blame for the disaster around fairly liberally. The book was surprisingly accessible considering the alphabet soup of ethnic factions and military splinter groups that populate its pages. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a crash course in the region.

Highlight: The author’s reoccurring observation that the ethnic hatred in Yugoslavia was strongest in areas of ethnic homogeneity (eg amongst Serbs in Knin, Croats in Split, and Serb and Croatian ex-pats). In general, it was in the areas that the groups lived together in close proximity that relations were most friendly (eg in Sarajevo). This reinforced my long held belief that people are more often racist in the abstract than in practice. The fact that the Cronulla riots occurred in the most racially homogeneous suburb in Australia should come as no surprise.

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