The author's work as the BBC's correspondent in Central Europe is well known and admired. Previous books by him can be recommended, for example,'Cyberthreats. In this book he tackles the daunting task of investigating and analysing the Balkans the cockpit of SE European rivalries, conflicts and open wars over hundreds of years.
The result is an excellent account that is a welcome addition to the many books on the Balkans.
Until around the 1940's fiction books about spies,particularly rather nasty ones, were invariably set in one of the countries that comprised the Balkans-Serbia being a popular choice. The same was true of a particular genre of Hollywood films. Why? The answer is because the Balkans have always been perceived by the general public as a region of mystery and violence. The assassination of the Archduke and his wife in 1914 caused therefore little surprise in some quarters. As one British newspaper stated at the time:'It is no surprise that this awful event occurred in that infernal region'. The author makes clear that the region was regarded by many as 'an ill-chartered zone separating Europe's well-ordered civilisation from the chaos of the Orient'.
As Glenny points out dispute have been commonplace over which countries comprise the Balkans. Is the Balkan peninsular in Asia or Europe is another long-standing question.
No European region in recent history has seen as much devastation as the Balkans.
Atrocities have been ferocious and inhumane. The same can be said some 100 years ago.
In this book the author explains how and why such thing have taken place at regular intervals, the pros and cons of Western involvement and destroys a number of myths in so doing.
I recommend this book to all interested in the region.
on 13 March 2013
A very detailed and thorough history of the Balkans over the last 200 years. Glenny's research is impressive and I found his coverage of the last few years particularly interesting. I find it difficult to find fault with this book. One or two more maps would have been nice but their absence does not impair one's enjoyment or understanding.
If you only buy one book covering this period and location, this is the one you need.
on 13 February 2013
Misha Glenny attempts to convey the confusion and the 'great power' manipulation in south east Europe during this period of history. It is clear ,however,that the local warlords are far from innocent bystanders and were easy prey to outside interference.
It puts the events of the 1990's into context.A valuable insight to those like me who have a particular interest in understanding the current animosity prevalent in the former Yugoslavia
on 12 February 2013
Highly detailed and done in Glenny`s convoluted style which takes it to the point of incomprehensibility at times. However, it is a very complex subject. Maps are not a lot of use, as text rarely makes reference to same. Don`t like use of native language words/expression without (at times) English explanation (had this before in Glenny`s work) - but that might just be me.
On the upside, and detail apart it does present a clear picture of events/developments and is a definite gain for my bookshelf.
Delivery service was excellent.
on 16 October 2016
Well written, comprehensive account of the history of the Balkans. A fantastic accompaniment to our holiday touring through the region. Unavoidably complex in parts due to the diversity of the area; such a mix of nationalities, religions, cultures and countries. Provides an interesting insight into the role of the 'great powers' over the past two centuries.