Miranda Vickers does an excellent job of distilling the available primary and secondary historical and geographical material on the former Yugoslavia into a lucid and compelling book. Unlike some writers, she footnotes her sources so the reader can form his or her own opinions based on further reading.
Ms. Vickers does not provide in-depth detail because the objective of this book is to provide a synopsis. Her work supports the contention that rivalries of the various ethnic groups have waxed and waned but long been a source of bloodshed. The worst scenarios in this book involved the spilling of blood as the Serbs attempted to overthrow assorted conquerers including the Ottoman Turks, Austrians, Hungarians, Nazis and others.
Vickers says the Albanian question is extremely thorny and very old. On the one hand, the Albaninans in Kosovo seemed not to have much interest in being part of Albania proper (probably owing to the radically different and worse standards of living in Albania). On the other hand the Albanians seem not to want to be part of Serbia either, though many of them moved to Serbia.
In 1918, during the Great War, when the Albanians had sided with the enemy "Hun" and the Serbs were allies, the U.S. recognized the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo (a battle fought and lost to the Ottoman Turk invaders hundreds of years before). This recognition followed the deaths of 100,000 Serbs as they retreated before the Austro-Hungarian army through Kosovo. "The majority lay unburied, covered by either snow or mud, until only their bones were found the following spring."
By the late 1990's many U.S. leaders--for whatever reason--failed to fully appreciate the ancient hatreds. One has to wonder how history might have been different if the diplomatic approach used in the Middle East with the Palestinians and Jews had been attempted in the Balkans.