.well written, thoughtful, accessible and often compelling." -- Brendan Simms, Sunday Times.
"LeBor charts with dexterity and black humour the rise, and eventual fall of this provincial Communist functionary." -- Marcus Tanner, The Independent.
.LeBor presents more than a useful history of the Balkan
wars." -- Stephen Robinson, Daily Telegraph.
"The best Milosevic biography so far
.pacey, highly readable." -- Tim Judah, The Observer.
'a haunting portrait of the man the West said it "could do business with" -- FERGAL KLEANE, Mail on Sunday
"This is a valuable account, written with journalistic vigour but also with a solid command of the facts." -- Sunday Telegraph, 13th October 2002
From the Author
This book was born out of my experiences as a correspondent in Croatia and Bosnia in the early 1990s, first for The Independent, and later for The Times. But whichever side of the front lines I found myself on, one name was always to the fore: Slobodan Milosevic.
For many, Milosevic has now become a hate-figure, a Balkan Saddam Hussein. But it is often forgotten - not least in the Serbian capital Belgrade that all through the 1990s, Milosevic and his Socialist party won and held power through a decades worth of elections.
The book is my attempt to understand the man blamed by many for the collapse of Yugoslavia and its descent into four bloody wars, and the forces that shaped his life. It is the first full-length authoritative account of Milosevics life, from his child-hood in the drab Serbian city of Pozarevac to his current incarceration in UN detention centre in The Hague. I did not set out to demonise Milosevic, but rather to unravel and illuminate both the forces that created him, and those that he and his allies unleashed in their bid to maintain power.
For example: few now remember that back in the early 1980s, Milosevic was seen as a reformer. As a successful international banker turned politician, he was viewed by many as an ideal candidate to steer Yugoslavia out of Communism into capitalism. Yet he was psychologically unable to make the transition from one-party state to freedom. Nor was he alone in this. The destruction of Yugoslavia, a once-sophisticated multi-national country, was not organised solely from the Serbian capital Belgrade. At varying times Milosevic had de-facto allies in the Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman, and his Slovenian counterpart Milan Kucan.
In its pages I have attempted to recreate the now vanished world of Tito-era and post-Tito Yugoslavia, from 1945 to the present day, so as to present the reader with a colourful and vivid context in which to understand the course of tragic events that marked the Milosevic decade. It is authoritative enough to take its place on university bookshelves, but also lively and full of human interest, enough, I hope, to capture the attention of the general reader who is not a Balkan specialist, and keep the reader turning the pages.
I also take a critical look at Milosevics relations with the west, including Britain and the United States. Now that he is a prisoner of the Hague tribunal, many in both the Foreign Office and the State Department would prefer to forget that for a decade, Slobodan Milosevic was treated as a respected statesman by a succession of world leaders and their envoys, such as Britains Lord Owen and the United States Richard Holbrooke. War criminal, or bastion of Balkan stability? The difference, it seems, lies not in deeds, but the fluctuating demands of western realpolitik.
I carried out dozens of interviews with those who had first hand dealings with Milosevic, such as Croatian president Stipe Mesic, Slovenian President Milan Kucan, as well as several former close associates and his wife, Mira, and brother Borislav, who spoke frankly for the first time about their childhood and the tragic deaths of their parents, both of whom committed suicide. The life and times of Slobodan Milosevic make a lengthy and complicated and tragic story. I hope my book succeeds in illuminating this dark and complex era of modern European history.