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Black lamb and grey falcon: A journey through Yugoslavia Unknown Binding – 1963


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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 1181 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Press (1963)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007EY1PO
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.2 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,880,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Jezza on 2 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
A middle-class englishwoman and her banker husband travel round Yugoslavia in the 1930s. Sounds dull, but it's actually one of the most engrossing books I have read for a long time - all 1200 pages of it. The digressions on the history of the Republic of Dubrovnik, Diocletian's palace in Split, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand etc are absolutely magical.

West has some odd ideas about religion and monarchy. She seems to be an Islamophobe and a Turkophobe, and I don't entirely like what she writes about Jews. She is an unashamed Serbophile in a way that is most unfashionable these days, and she has scant sympathy for anyone else's nationalism, but her heart and brain are undoubtedly in the right place.

Worth a read by anyone interested in the history of the Balkans, though not to be read uncritically.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By . on 25 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To summarise this review, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in: travel writing of any form, Balkan culture or history, the history of the Great European powers of the 19th century or simply to someone trying to understand why (ex-)Yugoslavia is where it is today. Having a passing interest in any one of the above categories is enough to qualify you for a recommendation. Along the way you will probably be captured by Rebecca West's beautiful writing, some captivating personal stories and anecdotes and will quite possibly end up wanting to get on the next plane to Belgrade or Skoplje to see the place for yourself.

As another reviewer has already been pointed out, this is not an objective travel guide, and makes no attempt to be. It is Rebecca West's personal account of her experiences in Yugoslavia, and as such is seen through the eyes of a liberal, progressive woman writer in the late 1930s. After travelling to Yugoslavia on three occasions for work and leisure, West fell in love with the country, and decided to summarise her experiences of it into this book.

The result is a comprehensive 'Journey through Yugoslavia' in book form. It is a journey seen through the eyes of a passionate, energetic, extremely perceptive and very subjective lady; it is also conditioned by the prevailing attitudes of the time, though in itself I found that this almost made the book even more interesting, as it is interesting to see how retrograde enlightened English culture was in some ways back then (eg in the prevalent homophobia and in the underlying assumption of the superiority of Christianity).
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
After reading some of the history of the Balkans, all other authors recommended this book, and after reading it I can see why. It is the format others try to obtain. She keeps the reader waiting for the next corner in not only her travels but in history. It puts into perspective todays turmoil.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reader on 1 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I learned a lot from reading this book. It is thoughly researched with excellent and valid references. The book provides for a better understanding of the background for the recent wars of the 1990s. This part of the world has been and still is exploited by the world powers that create divisions among the people of these lands. Anyone interested in that part of the world, now that all of history is being re-written, should read this book.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
Never before and never after have the mind of this tortured region - the Balkan - been thus penetrated: with such passionate, humane precision, with such eloquence, with such empathy and such conviction. A classic, if ever there was any, a masterpiece without a doubt. It is as fresh as yesterday's news and as ancient as the monasteries it describes. It is an eternal work, a must for Balkan afficionados, a work of scholarship and love. Influenced by it, I wrote this (in my 'After the Rain - How the West Lost the East'): 'The Balkans is the unconscious of the world...It is here that the repressed memories of history, its traumas and fears and images reside. It is here that the psychodynamics of humanity - the tectonic clash between Rome and Byzantium, West and East, Judeo-Christianity and Islam - is still easily discernible.' Thank you, Rebecca West. Sam Vaknin, author of 'After the Rain - How the West Lost the East'.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Nov. 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is, without a doubt, the greatest travel book ever written. Encylopaedic in its depth and scope, it is the vastly readable account of Dame Rebecca West's pre-war journeys through the Balkans. But it is more than a mere travelogue--it says much about the human predicament in general. It is impossible to understand the current problems in the former Yugoslavia without this book.
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