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Insightful but also frustrating
on 30 November 2013
There are several things that are really good:
- the immediacy of the accounts which are clearly written at the time of the events described, which sometimes results in some confusion of tense
- the insight into the underlying issues and fundamental difficulties of the reshaping of Yugoslavia
- the insight into the mistakes of policy within Europe and the implications on the ground for those who suffered as a result
- the even handedness of the picture, clearly the Serbs are not the only transgressors as is sometimes portrayed, nor are the Moslems simply victims, and the historical fears raised by the resurgence of Croatian nationalism are clear
But there are more things that make this frustrating:
- the accounts appear to assume knowledge about the events being described but the explanations and context only appear later in the narrative, leaving one confused. Sometimes the explanations never come. For instance, the US threat to attack Serbian targets is mentioned suddenly as something that has been threatened but this is the first we hear of it and we have no idea why this is threatened or the context of the threat.
- it stops short in 1996 - well the main book before this but there are epilogues to this edition. This leaves one wondering how the subsequent carnage developed and how we got to where we are today in 2013.
It is a good contemporary account but it falls short of comprehensive explanation. If you are looking for a history,then look elsewhere, this is additional colour and background and not the definitive account.