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The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great…

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

by Misha Glenny

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Fascinating. Overwhelming. I've again started reading from the beginning, for the third time. So many names, so many titles, and empires and countries and shifting borders. I've not yet gotten past page 200. It's not dull, it's simply SO MUCH! So I began again, and my intention is to get a bead on who is who and why they're doing what they're doing, and to whom.
  SFToohey | Apr 1, 2015 |
This is a good introduction to the history of the Balkans starting in 1804. As Bismark is supposed to have said "It's always some damn thing in the Balkans" and Glenny documents the Great Power interventions decently enough. The book suffers though, with Glenny's take on the Balkans after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, focusing more on the break up of Yugoslavia after the death of Tito, which is to be expected, since Glenny wrote another book entitled "The Fall of Fall of Yugoslavia". Very little is said about post cold war Romania, Bulgaria or Turkey, and only a little about Greece in the context of the current Eurozone currency crisis. Rather deafening by it's absence is any discussion of the after effects of 9/11/2001 on the area, other than a couple cursory remarks about Turkey and it's non involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That said, up to the end of the Cold War, this is a solid introduction to the subject. ( )
  rnsulentic | Apr 5, 2013 |
As the subtitle of his work indicated, Mischa Glenny’s work concentrated on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He arranged his material chronologi-cally, with geographical subdivisions within the chunks of time. He offered narra-tive history of the various times and places, focusing almost exclusively on politi-cal and military subjects, although there are biographical sketches included oc-casionally. Throughout the book, Glenny drew from a wide array of primary sources.

Two themes permeate _The Balkans_. Glenny believed that the great pow-ers unduly interfered in Balkan affairs and that the majority of misery and suffer-ing which occurred there resulted either directly or indirectly from one or more of these external meddlings. He raised this idea in his introduction and he ham-mered it home in his subsequent chapters. Glenny’s other principal theme was that Balkan people are nothing more nor less than individuals with their own dreams and aspirations. They are not more genetically predisposed towards ra-cial hatred, nor ethnic biases than any other people. Glenny hoped to show that whatever problems and enmity that may exist in the Balkans can be explained in terms of recent events without resorting to “ancient hatreds€?. Each of these themes is a manifestation of Glenny’s general premise that the West does not understand the Balkans. ( )
1 vote AlexTheHunn | Dec 13, 2005 |
In a timely, passionate survey of Balkan history since the early 19th century, Misha Glenny provides the essential background to recent terrible 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, Greence, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. Many readers will welcome the author's insights into the final century of Ottoman rule, a complex and colourful 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 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 interference in the region has been catastrophic for the peoples of the Balkans, and how so-called "ancient hatreds" and "tribal rivalries" have often been intensified by ignorant diplomants in far-away capitals, creating states, allocating populations and redrawing borders--with deadlin results. It remains to be seen, Glenny argues in a terse epilogue, whether the most recent western intervention will have a more benign outcome.

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.
  antimuzak | Nov 5, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140233776, Paperback)

The history of the Balkan states, like that of so much of the world, has for centuries been marked by ethnocidal fracases, savage wars of conquest, and periods of eerie calm. The mountainous region's shifting alliances and divisions have long puzzled outside observers, writes journalist Misha Glenny, the author of The Fall of Yugoslavia: "For many decades, Westerners gazed on these lands as if [they were] an ill-charted zone separating Europe's well-ordered civilization from the chaos of the Orient."

Those outsiders, Glenny suggests, have been the source of much of the Balkans' misery. In only the last two centuries, the territory has been contested by the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires, the Third Reich, and the Allies, all of whom exploited and exacerbated existing ethnic conflict. (The Nazi occupiers of Croatia, he writes, even had to rein in the fascist Ustase militia for fear that their campaign against Serbs and Muslims would only strengthen resistance to their puppet government.) And, he continues, attempts to quell the recent conflict in Bosnia have created problems of their own. He argues that war will break out anew the moment international troops are withdrawn and that the Dayton Agreement is too "full of anomalies and frictions" to stand. The intervention in Kosovo has been no better, he adds, and the Allies' misguided efforts are sure to yield only further bloodshed if the only objective is to remove Slobodan Milosevic from power. "Should the West fail to address the effects, not merely of a three-month air war in 1999, but of 120 years of miscalculation and indifference since the Congress of Berlin, then there will be little to distinguish NATO's actions from any of its great-power predecessors," Glenny concludes.

Glenny's provocative book sheds much light on recent Balkan history--and on the region's likely future. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:35 -0400)

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A survey of Balkan history since the early nineteenth century.

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