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A valuable account,
This review is from: Serbs and Croats: The Struggle in Yugoslavia (Paperback)It is almost impossible to give a balanced account of the history of Yugoslavia, because it is a history confused by a great many myths. In particular, many western journalists talk of centuries of hatred dividing the Serbs and Croats, but that has to be nonsense, because for centuries before 1920 Serbs and Croats barely knew one another. Croatia was part of the Habsburg Empire, whereas Serbia, independent since 1815, had previously been part of the Ottoman Empire. Politically conscious Croats only started visiting Serbia in the 19th century, where they discovered a people quite similar to themselves, and speaking the same language. They and the Slovenes were not hostile to the idea of forming a larger unit with the Serbs, in part because both Slovenia and Croatia were much too small to resist encroachment by Italy and Austria, two neighbours that differed far more from them than Serbia did. In no sense, therefore, were they brought by force into what was initially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
Nonetheless, cracks appeared immediately, because the different components had very different visions of how the country should be, and only during Tito's lifetime did Yugoslavia present anything resembling a united front. Probably it was inevitable that it would fall apart, especially after Italy and Austria no longer seemed to be the threat to Slovenia and Croatia that they had been before the Second World War. Alex Dragnich expains all this very clearly, and one needs to be strongly biassed towards the Croat point of view to see the book as "Great Serbian Garbage!", as an earlier reviewer entitled a review. In the last chapters particularly, the author perhaps shows somewhat more sympathy to the Serbian point of view than a totally neutral observer would do, but this is hardly evident in most of the book.
The break-up of Yugoslavia had started when the book was written, but the worst was still to come: Macedonia and Montenegro were still part of Yugoslavia, and most of the horrors of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo were still in the future.