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The Balkans 1804-1999 Nationalism, War and the Great Powers by Misha Glenny

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

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The Balkans 1804-1999 Nationalism, War and the Great Powers by Misha Glenny

A survey of two centuries of history, by Britain's commentator on the Balkans, Misha Glenny. It offers general readers a single narrative that explains the background to the terrible events on their television screens and provides insights into the roots of the region's reputation for violence. It also explores the origins of modern Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Greece, Bulgaria and Albania.


This daunting, elephantine (well, two-and-a-half pounds) utterly heroic but ultimately exasperating stduy of recent Balkan politics is certain to become essential reading for those whose academic interests include the nagging toothache of The Eastern Question and the delicate historical traceries of that part of the world known as Turkey-in-Europe. Misha Glenny, one of a small group of serious writers and students (Noel Malcolm and Timothy Garton-Ash being the most prolific) who can lay claim to a close reading of the region's mysteries, has done himself proud with this exhaustive account, by comparison with which his well received and often reprinted The Fall of Yugoslavia seems almost a minor work. But, heroic though this new book may be, it has to be admitted it is most difficult to read. Misha Glenny is no stylist, and he has the thoroughly irritating habit of changing pace, abruptly and far too often, in the midst of narratives that seem otherwise destined to become interesting. The reader, even the most informed, will be troubled time and time again, as Glenny lurches into higher or lower gear and all too often changes direction, until, heaping his literary Pelion upon the Ossa of the Balkan's own confusion, he produces an account that in far, far too many places, is just barely readable. And his conclusion - that after a century or more of making so much mischief in the region, the Great Powers and their descendants must now invest their money heavily in the region in order to make the Balkan poeple contentedly and non-belligerently bourgeois, begs all too many questions: one of them being - just why should the outside world invest a penny piece in so shiftless and unreliable, so wild and wayward a corner of the world? It is all too simple to propose that those lucky enough to live beyond the Balkans should feel guilty for this endless and endlessly fascinating tragedy, and which has caused so much trouble in the world beyond. But is it in fact conceivable that some measure of responsibility actually lies with the Balkan people themselves? And if that is so, is it racist, for instance, to suggest that they - just like the Rwandans say, or the Burmese - might be persuaded to sort out their differences themselves? (Kirkus UK)

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Book Info

Publication date

18th August 2000


Misha Glenny

More books by Misha Glenny
Author 'Like for Like'


Granta Books


752 pages


European history
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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