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Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation Paperback – February 1, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

. . . one of the finest volumes to come out of the war . . . -- The New York Times Book Review, Chris Hedges

About the Author

Silber served as the Balkans correspondent for the Financial Times.

Little has been a correspondent with BBC radio and television news since 1988
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Rep Sub edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140262636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140262636
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Being closely affected by the entire catastrophy of the last 12 years in Yugoslavia I have read almost everything avaliable on Amazon and in the bookstores pertaining to the subject. This is the Mother Goose of all the books on the last 12 years in the region. One realizes this because all other books quote this one quite often. They are usually recycled or paraphrazed parts of Laura Silber's book. The book is cold and unemotional the way a book about such an event should be. It didnt leave anything out and the sequence of events is perfect. Everything that came after this books publishing was either forshadowed or is just an effect of things in this book. On the other hand if one wants to read books by clowns who were responsible for everything allow me to recommend Slobodan Milosevics' "Years of decisions", Holbrookes "To end a War" (sic. but only when my Q rating is really high), Zimmermanns "Origins of a catastophe"(sic. was blind but now can see). Read this book, understand what and how went on and hold your own against any expert on the subject.
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Format: Paperback
Like most of the reviewers I am a veteran Balkanist, and am impressed by the quality of both research and writing in this , I found it even easier to use than Mischa Glenny's excellent study of War & Nationalism.
My caveat is the obvious one, it takes very much the 'Guardian report from embattled Sarejevo' approach to the Bosnian conflict. The Serbs are caricatured as villains and the Muslims as heroes/victims, and the Croats relegated to an overly minor role, rather than key players. It also takes this line (a bit)with the break-up of Yugoslavia, where extremist Serb statements are extensively quoted as if representative of Yugoslavia's Serb polity, while similar stuff from Croats or Albanians is carefully put in its correct context as not speaking for the majority. The lies and misdeeds of Serb politicans are likewise accurately deconstructed, while those of the other sides tend to be taken uncritically at their own word. My own experience of living in Bosnia during 1990 was of a community for whom no sides extremists actually spoke, but were polarised against their will by war and the fear of war. The trouble is that a a historian it is easy to be caught by self-fulfilling prophecies, extremists can both talk and ignite a war which engulfs whole communities, it should not be taken as proof they were somehow articulating a whole community's desire for war all along!
Overall a useful contibution, especially in terms of chronology of who said what, and provided its bias is taken into account, well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
I became involved in the Bosnian crisis in a professional capacity as an intelligence analyst and briefing officer at the headquarters, U.S. European command, and served in Sarajevo with the initial NATO Peace Implementation Force (IFOR). I have been studying and following the history of this area and events in Bosnia ever since. I am familiar with many of the events in the crisis and personalities involved, and found this to be an outstanding summary of the process of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The portion of the book covering the rise of Milosevic and the departure from Yugoslavia of Slovenia is particularly well done. The coverage of the Bosnian war is a bit cursory, and takes the perspective of the conventional wisdom of the international journalistic community. I know from talking to UNPROFOR officers and others who were there that the Muslims were not totally innocent victims and the Serbs universally evil monsters. With that small caveat, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone trying to understand the entire Yugoslav crisis. It is meticulously researched and documented. Anyone trying to understand what is happening in Kosovo right now would be well advised to read this book.
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Format: Paperback
As a graduate student whose entire higher education experience has been centered around this subject, this book has been invaluable. For anyone who desires a comprehensive understanding of how and why events unfolded as they did in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, this is required reading. It is one of a very few books that does not focus on the war from the perspective of Western politicians, armchair generals and academics, first-hand narratives, or thrill-seeking reporters (though a number of books written from those perspectives are exceptional and ought to be read alongside this one, including David Halberstam's "War in a Time of Peace" for its equally painstaking detail in describing the American political perspective ).

Silber does not waste time waxing poetic on the moral failings of the West or the dark side of human nature, but lays out with painstaking detail the chronology of events - political, military, civilian, among others - that led to and sustained one of the darkest hours in recent history. Contrary to some reviews, I find Silber's treatment of Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks absent of bias. Equal attention is not given to each of the three groups' transgressions, and there were transgressions on all sides, because the number and brutality of said transgressions are not equal. The cleansing of Krajina is not covered extensively, but it is covered well, and there is no glossing over the fact that Croatian troops under Gotovina and with the blessing of Tudjman committed terrible acts during Operation Storm. Nor is Bosniak leader Alija Izetbegovic let off the hook for his failings.
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