Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia Hardcover – July 1, 1994

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$30.00 $1.49

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hall, a freelance American journalist, was one of the last outsiders permitted to travel freely in Yugoslavia during the final days of its existence. From early May to mid-September 1991 he questioned members of the various Balkan "tribes" in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo and points in between, listening to comments on their history, prejudices, superstitions, fears, aspirations and opinions of other ethnic and national groups. With an unbiased attitude and colorful writing style ("his Ks sounding like chicken bones going down a garbage-disposal unit"), Hall describes the last days of peaceful coexistence among Yugoslavia's religious and ethnic communities and delineates conflicts that would trigger the horrors of "ethnic cleansing" and war. In one particularly telling section, he recounts the dynamics of hatred swirling around Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, where religious pilgrims flock to witness the appearance of the Virgin. Hall's account, which he modestly calls a travel book, is an excellent source for understanding the complications and contradictions of the current Balkan crisis.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this masterly account of the former Yugoslavia's decay and collapse in 1991, American journalist Hall's powerful sense of location and mentality is expressed through a blend of close friendships, high-level interviews, and courageous questions. Hall moves comfortably among Serbs who perceive the nation as a "superpersonality," Croats who remain ambivalent toward their World War II fascist regime, and Muslims like Bosnian president Aliija Izetbegovi'c who claim only the "freedom to define themselves as a people." Religion is omnipresent, and Hall interprets the meaning of the unfinished, cavernous Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, the intimacy among Muslims at Jajce Mosque in Bosnia, and the wonder of those pursuing the vision of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje. Hall lacks the personal involvement Slavenka Drakuli'c offers in her Balken Express (LJ 4/15/93), and he neglects Slovenia and Macedonia, but his book may be the finest English-language depiction of its kind, if only for his fidelity to his title. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
Zachery T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ.- Erie
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine; 1st American Ed edition (July 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567920004
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567920000
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,285,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Vasilius on January 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my choice for the best introduction to the conflicts in what was Yugoslavian. When I was hosting an exchange student from the Balkans, I read 15 books in an effort to gain understanding. I was frustrated with blatantly one-sided books, and also books which had all the names, dates and horrors but did not help me understand. Hall's book was the best. While I will never truly understand the roots of the hatred, this thoughtful and amazingly non-partisan book opened windows for an uninvolved American into the psyches of that troubled region. I wish I had read it first.
1 Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books I couldn't put down. It's the travel book as political history, full of facts and landscape but dominated by characters, storytelling and superb writing. The story Brian Hall tells, as he travels among the peoples of a country about to dismember itself, is often surprisingly comic, but, of course, finally it is heartbreaking. If you read only one book on the recent and distant history of Yugoslavia--and if you wonder why the United States and many of its allies were (and are) willing to wage war with the Serbs--read this book. It's a true story, and it is written with the skill and passion of a great storyteller.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
First to say, I'm a local, Croatian.

I was amazed with this book. I expected some typical superficial book from some foreigner who found simple solution for our "ancient hatreds". But, Brian got it. He went into the heart of the matter and gave a very good picture of what was going on 20 years ago. It gave me the opportunity to refresh memory with very exciting times for us and even to learn something.

Nevertheless this book has it's faults, errors and omissions.

One can get the wrong impression that all Croats were Ustashas in WW2. Half of them were Partisans, fighting against Fascism. Even on quisling side, the most of them fought for Croatia, not for some ideology. They give little thought that they would end up ostracized on the wrong side of History. They only knew that after many centuries Croatia was resurrected as a state.

Brian at one place mentions priests as commanders of concentration camps. This sounds to me like something picked up from Serbian side, not properly checked. It is true that some priests were criminals, I know that one was commander of Jasenovac. But, these priests were dismissed and defrocked by Church authorities. This wasn't mentioned, one could get the wrong impression that Church supported and condoned atrocities.

Brian was tough on Archbishop Stepinac, he showed him like an Ustasha sympathizer. True, he supported the idea of Croatian state, but was against murders and pogroms. His own brother was killed by Fascists. He helped and saved with his actions many Jews, but this is still not accepted stubbornly and he is not admitted in Yad Vashem memorial. True, he instructed priests to baptize Serbs, but to save lives. He said in his instructions: "Help everyone who comes to you. Save as many people as you can.
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would say that this was the best book I read last year. I really wanted to understand what the hell happened during those years in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and so on...Brian Hall just exceeded my expectations and I am so grateful that he could write a very easy reading with many facts, data, main events, descriptions and about experiences with local people that will make everything so clear for you. I read it two times since it has a lot of details and valuable information. Bottom line...if you want to understand the war, its reasons, consequences, main events, and details from many different perspectives (serbs, croats and bosnians)...read it now.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This book is as relevant today as it was when written in 1991. Its author was an on-the-ground observer as Yugoslavia was deconstructing as a nation and as the Balkans were once again building to war.

Brian Hall tells generally how old ethnic/religious antagonisms can smolder - and specifically how some of the small daily differences between groups make the kindling that eventually gets the fire going. This combination of the general and the mundane are what caused the most recent Balkan conflict, and are probably what ignite most wars. Halls writes, "I felt, as the groups polarized day-by-day, that I was watching a chemical reaction, a precipitation of hatreds resulting from interactions on a molecular level, too tiny to be visible or analyzable, but inevitable and irreversible."

One general pre-condition that favored the war in what was then Yugoslavia was the way in which rights and government representation were granted on the basis of nationality rather than on a principle of the inalienable, equal rights of all human beings (as developed in our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution). Those Balkan ethnic groups without a "high historical culture" to point to, often got the short end of the stick. Ethnic heritage - whether Serb, Croat, or Muslim - became a group's defining quality and branded the groups separately. There was no overarching word to encompass and include all groups - as the word "German" embraced and eventually melded both German Catholics and Protestants into a sort of unity after the 30-years-War.

On the more specific level, Hall points out how old massacres were constantly being re-hashed in people's daily conversations. But specific cultural habits also made moats between groups.
Read more ›
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews