28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Probably The Least Understood Region Of Europe,
This review is from: The Balkans: 1804 - 2012: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers (Paperback)
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.