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The Balkans (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) [Paperback]

Mark Mazower
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description


At the end of the twentieth century people spoke as if the Balkans had plagued Europe for ever. But two hundred years earlier, the Balkans did not exist. It was not the Balkans but the ¿Rumeli¿ that the Ottomans ruled, the formerly Roman lands they had conquered from Byzantium, together with their Christian inhabitants. In this original account of the region Mark Mazower dispels current Western clichés and replaces stereotypes with a vivid account of how mountains, empires and religions have shaped its inhabitants¿ lives. As a bridge between Europe and Asia it has been exposed to a constant incursion of nomadic peoples across the centuries.

Mazower¿s narrative ranges broadly both in time and in space, treating the former Turkish domains in Europe as part of a common if complex historical inheritance.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (20 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842125443
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842125441
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Mazower is the author of Inside Hitler's Greece, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century, The Balkans, which won the Wolfson Prize for History, and Salonika: City of Ghosts, which won both the Runciman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. He has taught at the University of Sussex, Princeton University and Birkbeck College, University of London. He is now Professor of History at Columbia University.

Product Description


"A gem of a book, packed with illuminating information." --"The New York Review of Books""An invaluable resource for anyone hoping to gain an initial understanding of Balkan history." --"The New York Times""An excellent primer on the region's history." --"The Economist ""A highly suggestive analysis of an inexhaustible subject." --"Publishers Weekly"

Book Description

A dazzling short history of the Balkans from the Romans to the present, which provides vital historical and cultural background to contemporary Balkan politics.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an outstanding history 6 Feb 2002
Its probaby best to start this review with a disclaimer. This is not an account of recent events in the Balkans. Nor is it some sort of an in-depth exploration of the reasons for its conflicts. What it is is an exercise in masterful historical writing.
The book is written with flair and ease, engaging even to those who normally shy from history books. It is certainly not a heavy tome of new research. This is not to say that it is simple-minded. Rather the depth of knowledge evident in Mr. Mazower's deft command of a wide range of both modern research and contemporary sources is remarkable. There is something here for both those looking for an introduction to the region, as well as those (like myself) with more than a passing acquaintance with its history looking for a synthesis of a wide range work.
Despite my earlier disclaimer, the book does shed light on the nationalist wars of the 90s in the region, mostly through its 'myth-busting'. Mr. Mazower puts to flight both the ultra-nationalist myths of demagogues in the region, as well as theories popularized by certain "historical" writers in the english-speaking world (a la 'Balkan Ghosts') that attempted to portray Balkan history as a series of neverending massacres by peoples instinctively given to violence. Mr. Mazower in his own quiet, and elegant manner buries such theories under the weight of evidence.
This is one of the best books Ive read on the region for ages. Both well written as well as eye-opening and mind-expanding. Perhaps Mr. Mazower's greatest gift is his ability to recreate the changing pulse of life for different groups of people over the last few hundred years throughout the region. The people he describes are never stereotypes, and finally the montage of pictures that emerge of the Balkans itself is far richer and more distinctive than the caricutured symbol for bloodshed it has been in far too much 'academic' literature in the west.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An original and stimulating synopsis 21 Aug 2003
This short book is a must read for any student of the Balkans region. Mazower enables the reader to gain an understanding of the pysche of the peoples of the region. The quality of analysis is especially lucid and original - though the focus of the book is pre-dominantly pre-WW2.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Introduction 17 May 2011
By Richard
I think overall that this was an interesting, panoramic view of Balkan history from the fall of the Byzatium Empire to the present day. The short and punchy chapters, that Mark writes, are written with a style that is both lucid and insightful in many ways.

I do think however that the book was a little scant on certain areas that I wanted to learn more about; for example the Russo-Turkish war of 1878, the Crimean war and the break-up of the Yugoslavian state in the early 90's. I hasten to add, that if I wanted to find out more about these events then I probably bought the wrong book, as the book is very much an introduction.

So why the 3 stars instead of 5? Firstly, the book's last chapter or two, in my opinion, trys to deal with too much, with the end result that you're left with a superficial picture of events. Lastly, the Balkan wars of the 90's, I feel could have been covered in more depth.

To end on a positive note: if every historian adopted this short but insightful style of writting for an introduction to the history of any region/country, then I think, more people would find history living up to the old adage: To understand the present, we must try to understand the past.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sense & Sentivity 14 Mar 2009
I chose this book because I had read Mazower's "Greece Under Hitler" and was impressed by many aspects of that book: his research is thorough, his writing is intelligent and balanced, and he uses a lot of first-hand eye-witness accounts from all sides of this multi-faceted conflict to get to the heart of the real experience of people, whether they be peasants, politicians or foot-soldiers. In "The Balkans" he is tackling a very different set of historiographical problems, trying to map historically a vast and diverse geographical area over several hundred years, up to and including that most difficult era for any historian, the present.
Typically, he starts by examining the clichés of Balkan lawlessness and violence, questioning the origins of the stereotypes. He goes back systematically to primary sources to ask what life was really like in Turkish Europe under Ottoman rule. Although a meticulous scholar, Mazower is aimed at the "general reader"; his writing is humane and engaging without ever dumbing-down or condescending to the imagined reader. My only criticism of this book is that it is not longer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the balkans 19 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
excellent book.well written and surprisingly detailed for it's size.gives a very good overview of the area especially in the context of the ottoman empire.also provides some interesting insights on the origins of national identity in the area
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mazower's ''The Balkans'' proved to one packed to the brim in Balkan history, and he has shown through this book that he is definitely an expert in this field of study.

The variety of quotes from significant people who studied or played their part in Balkan history was evidence of extensive research which helped me in understanding more clearly contemporary opinion of events at the time.

Including information right from Roman times I also found impressive, showing Balkan history doesn't begin and end with the conflict of the 1990's and giving more background to hundreds of years of history of the region.

My criticisms of the book would be personally I found the book a bit wordy at times, and possibly the book could've been condensed into smaller chapters rather than bundling many years in with each other.

Having said that, the positives very much outweigh the negatives, and I'd advise this book to someone looking to understand the complex history of the Balkans.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Balkans
I enjoyed reading it, Mr.Mazower's books are easy to read and very interesting. He gives a very vivid picture of the Balkans which makes one understand better the recent events.
Published 17 months ago by Gabriella
5.0 out of 5 stars History as it should be
There's something very exhilarating about this book. You get the sense that the author has distilled a substantial body of knowledge into a very succinct narrative, yet the... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Giles O'Bryen
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I didn't know anything about Balkan history before I read this book, and am a little bit better informed now, but this is not a suitable introduction for the general reader. Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2012 by M. D. Holley
5.0 out of 5 stars The Balkans (Universal History)
A very handy book that helps to understand extremely complex history of the region. Mark Mazower un-tangles a web of complexities and leads us through Balkan history, making it... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2012 by Urs1111
5.0 out of 5 stars A short but illuminating overview
Excellent concise history covering some 500 years of history in little more than 140 pages. Very well written. I look forward to reading more by Mr Mazower.
Published on 28 Dec 2011 by Pensato
5.0 out of 5 stars The Balkans, fulcrum of Europe
Mark Mazower writes with his customary authority on the role that the Balkans played in the history of Southern Europe.He handles the subject with great skill and ease. Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2010 by Kevin J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinite riches in a little room
Little wonder that this book scooped both the Wolfson History Prize in 2000 and the Bentinck Prize in 2001! Read more
Published on 5 July 2010 by Kenneth F. Mcara
5.0 out of 5 stars DesJ
This is an excellent short history of the Balkans which does not suffer from being a few years old. Mazower's style is easy to read so that the book is enjoyable as well as... Read more
Published on 25 May 2010 by Mr. Desmond Derrien
5.0 out of 5 stars More than an introduction
I have read a number of descriptions of the goings-on in the Balkans over the last 150 years but this one still finds much to say. What a good historian is Mr. Mazower. Read more
Published on 25 April 2010 by Book fiend
5.0 out of 5 stars How it was in the Balkans
A straightforward but fascinating history that stresses the cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-faith nature of the Ottoman polity and the damage wrought by the Romantic invention... Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2010 by Martin White
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