The Balkans

The Balkans

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

Book - 2000
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Baker & Taylor
A history of the modern Balkans studies its diverse cultures, portrays its kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals, and politicians, and describes the impact of great power interference in the region

& Taylor

A history of the modern Balkans, from the early nineteenth century to the present day, studies its diverse cultures and includes portraits of its kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals, and politicians, citing the impact of great-power interference in the region. 15,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Viking Penguin, 2000
ISBN: 9780670853380
Branch Call Number: 949.6028 Gle
Characteristics: xxvi, 726 p. : maps


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Aug 31, 2013

This is wonderfully well-written account of Balkan history from the First Serbian Uprising in 1804 to the NATO aggression against rump Yugoslavia in 1999. The author makes a convincing case that the Great Powers as much as ethnic antagonisms are to blame for a lot of the bloodshed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It seems almost churlish to criticize such a well-told story, but with a little more work it could have been a better book. All Balkan names are appropriately accented, but there is no guide provided on just what these Albanian, Romanian or Turkish accents mean. By contrast the Hupchick history provides a convenient pronunciation guide for all the major Balkan languages.

Glenny defines the Balkans more as the former Turkey in Europe than as Southeastern Europe, only bringing regions like Croatia, Slovenia, Transylvania and Vojvodina into the story when they intersect with the core region of his history. Especially with respect to the Croats this seems like a dubious choice. They are big players in the second half of the book, but just flit in and out of the first half. I think it would have been better to have treated the Balkans as consisting of the countries that in 1989 were Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia, ignoring the remaining Turkish part of Europe except to the extent that Turkish developments affected the other countries.

Even Bulgaria and Romania, which are supposed to be at the core of his story, just drift out of it long before the end of the century.It makes you wonder if near the end of his vast project, Glenny didn't just lose interest in big chunks of it.

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