The recent war in Bosnia re-ignited ancient hatreds and led to acts of brutality that echoed World War II atrocities: large-scale massacres and "ethnic cleansing". Bosnian Serbs, aided by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, systematically murdered, raped, and terrorized Bosnian Muslims as they strove to create a Greater Serbia. Now, journalist Tim Judah provides some perspective on the horrors of the Bosnian conflict with The Serbs
. Make no mistake, Judah is not an apologist for Serbian excesses; rather, he aims to explicate the Balkans' long and violent history leading to this latest tragic conflict.
The Serbs begins with the establishment of a Serbian state in the Middle Ages, then follows Serb fortunes through ensuing centuries of conquest, conflict, and oppression. Ethnic cleansing in the Balkans is hardly unique to the Bosnian war; it has been a horrific element of all Balkan conflicts, and Judah convincingly argues that Serbian nationalism is an outgrowth of the Serbs' own sufferings as victims of ethnic cleansing in past conflicts. Anyone interested in current affairs--particularly in the Balkans--will find Tim Judah's The Serbs an engrossing and important exploration of the Bosnian conflict.
From Library Journal
Judah, a correspondent for the LondonTimes and the Economist, satisfies a critical need in the burgeoning literature of the former Yugoslavia by focusing on a single nation. Yugoslavia's destruction emerges less as an event of malicious volition than as the consequence of the "lie" of South Slav unity after World War I. This perspective combines a broad interpretation of nationalism in Serbia proper with the involvement of outside actors and the Serb diaspora. Judah is at his best in depicting the Serbs' powerful myths about their history, their post-World War II repression, and their exploitation by Slobodan Milo sevi'c. For all its detail, this is not a history of Serbia but a work of interpretation whose judgment on recent events is controversial. Neither minimizing the region's historical violence nor exculpating those responsible, the author shuns the simplistic platitudes of religous atavism for a more complex "cycle of vengeance" throughout the area. The book's scope and quality recommend it a place alongside such durable works as Ivo Banac's The National Question in Yugoslavia (1984). For all academic and larger public libraries.?Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie
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