- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press; 1St Edition edition (March 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814706711
- ISBN-13: 978-0814706718
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,577,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide 1St Edition Edition
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From Library Journal
An independent scholar living in Washington, DC, Anzulovic interprets Serbia's violent history as a consequence of historical legacies: Saint Sava's mystical identification of the church and nation, glorified killing in such works as Petar P. Njego s's Mountain Wreath (1986), and the "pagan-tribal ethos" of the Balkans and of Serbia in particular. The book's strength consists of illustrating a national ideology woven from myth and historical episode. Indeed, its title derives from the 1389 Battle of Kosovo Polje, in which a messenger from Saint Elias offered Prince Lazar a "heavenly kingdom" in accepting Serbian defeat. Anzulovic posits the revitalized myth promoted by Orthodox clergy, popular writers, and urban intellectuals as the source of the recent genocidal war. Although acknowledging policies imposed from without, the author overlooks Serbia's experience as a victim of past aggression. Likewise, the "many" Serbs who want a life of peace and toleration are only passingly recognized. Nevertheless, the book's grasp of Serbian culture extends far beyond the superficial "ancient hatreds" thesis of Balkan war. Scholars will find it a good companion to Timothy Judah's more general The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (LJ 3/15/97). Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.AZachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"The book's strength consists of illustrating a national ideology woven from myth and historical episode."-Library Journal ,3/15/99
"In a timely, scholarly work, Branimir Anzulovic brings the two theories together in Heavenly Serbia. He shows how history, religion, myth, and folklore intertwined to lay the groundwork; and how Slobodan Milosevic, a former Communist Party technocrat turned highly skilled manipulator, invoked the past to incite Serbs to create a larger and ethnically pure ‘Greater Serbia.’...All in all, though, the book goes a long way in helping the reader understand the 'hows' and 'whys' of what is happening in the Balkans today."-Faye Bowers,Christian Science Monitor
"Recommended reading."-USA Today
"The book's grasp of Serbian culture extends far beyond the superficial 'ancient hatreds' thesis of Balkan war."-Zachary T. Irwin,Pennsylvania State University, Erie
"Modern Serbian nationalism...and its contradictory connections...have been sources of considerable scholarly interest...Branimir Anzulovic's compendium is a good example of the genre, made all the more useful by Anzulovic's excellent command of the literature."-Ivo Banac,History of Religions
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This book tries to explain the causes and conditions that propelled Serbs into renting asunder of (an illusory?) tribal harmony in communist Yugoslavia. The main thesis is that Serb personal, political and religious life is defined by myths (of Serb defeat by the Ottomans, of "Serb exceptionalism", etc). Several chapters attempt to show that the genocidal streak in the Serbian national mythos originated in a violent 19th century poem calling for elimination of Turks and their collaborators. Anzulovic shows that, far from resisting occupation, Serb aristocrats were valuable vassals of Ottoman Turks, helping to consolidate Ottoman power both through troops and personal service. There is an intriguing link between the Serb tradition of banditry and its disregard for victims which may be relevant to our understanding of the Bosnian war. Pace A., in Servia, cruelty when successful is admired; thus Serb paramilitary atrocities in Bosnia created a vicious self-reinforcing circle that was actively encouraged by intellectual, artistic and religious elites in the Serb capital (Belgrade). The author shows a particular scorn for the Serb Orthodox Church which has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Bosnian genocide through its "St. Savaist" populism. As far as the Belgrade Patriarchy is concerned, murdering innocent Muslims does not contradict Christ's teachings. In other words, for a few blood-soaked years the Serbs represented an Orthodox version of the Taliban.
Much of what A. says appears, to an outsider, convincing. The zeal with which Serb civilians, paramilitaries and soldiers tortured, maimed and murdered innocent Croats & Bosnians should be contrasted to the effeteness, confusion and lack of professionalism of European (British, French and especially, Dutch) armies which watched the genocide on the ground, sometimes from yards away. If I was in Afpak I certainly would be concerned if I had to serve next to the craven Dutch troops whose surrender of Srebrenica should represent a case study for every contemporary military school.
The book is not without problems. While trying to explain the Bosnian war, A. overplays the sway of mythos over the Serb "soul' while overlooking the role of Milosevic's opportunistic populism and the naked economical self-interest of Bosnian Serbs. The endless referral to violent medieval Serbian myths, poems and works of art overlooks the fact that almost every culture possesses their equivalents: Popol Vuh, Icelandic sagas, Warao creation myths, you name it. Finally, while the Serbs are portrayed as monsters egged on by their deviant cultural and religious institutions, the author overlooks the neighbors: Croats, who as Nazi collaborators committed far greater atrocities [that were said to disgust the Waffen SS itself]]; Albanians who are running arguably the most efficient and ruthless pan European drug trafficking and prostitution operation in history, Hungarians, who have their own sordid history of medieval slaughters. Claiming, as A. does, that the Serbs have a monopoly on violence and atrocities is absurd. Anyone who's read Burkhardt's seminal Civilization of the Renaissance will know that cruelty was the order of the day amongst the pre-Italians. Like the Bosnian Serbs, the Hutu perpetrated the Rwanda genocide mostly because of the their need for more land; historic hatreds were an excuse.
If A. is ethnically Croat, then one should consider this book as a (yet another?) salvo in the inter-ethnic rivalry between the two Slavic tribes.I'd say this book should be read with reservation as the lack of objectivity and pro-Croat bias make it apparent that the author's main goal is to demonize a historic antagonist/competitor. Anzulovic is a partisan, not a scholar and the book should be read as another installment in the propaganda jostle between Southern Slavs.
Quite frankly, it is as well disgusting to have seen Mr. Anzulovic use a fresco from a medieaval Serbian monastery as his cover. He somehow found the rarest fresco of all, one in a thousand, which features an armed warrior named the "guardian of Christ" in an effort to somehow portray the Serbian people as some sort of "warmongers". Mr. Anzulovic, next time simply stick to writing books that claim the Croat descent of American Indians.
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