The layout of the story is by region and country and this is helpful in putting things in context. As he progresses through the conflicts of each country, the narrative does skip around at times and this can be confusing. Capital P politics: where the great powers jockey for position and influence in the region, and a few other miscellaneous reasons; yet, all the reasons for war fall on the helpless peasant populations of the countries that make up the Balkans. The one thing that "The Balkans" has taught this reviewer is that there is no rhyme or reason for the atrocities, just hate!
The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804 - 1999
Savages are unleashed on helpless woman and children, who are raped and slaughtered for the pure joy of it, and this repetition throughout the book makes for a difficult read at times, yet, these things can not be deleted or glossed over by the writer because they represent the facts of the history of the Balkans. In the final chapter, the writer expresses his feelings that the great Powers did not demonstrate the will to control the outcomes of these wars.
The Great Powers will bomb cities and the poor peasants and even throw money at the situation, but cannot solve these conflicts, only the Balkan people can overcome their own history and move into the 21st century, but it will take education and Statesmen, who have not surfaced to date. May 16, Adrian Fingleton rated it it was amazing. Read this a few years back - just remembered when someone I know put it as 'want to read'.
It's a great book and really explains the confusing complexities and origins of the conflict in that troubled part of the world. A great and educational book. View 1 comment.
The Balkans, 1804-2012
Sep 06, Tom Nixon rated it it was amazing. This is one of those subjects that has long fascinated me but I've never actually had the time to sit down and find out much about it. Happily, Misha Glenny paints as close to an all-encompassing picture as one could hope for in his voluminous history of The Balkans, which covers the period from to This troubled region has long been seen as backwards and troublesome in traditional Western narratives, ranging from Bismark's prediction that the war would begin over 'some damned foolish t This is one of those subjects that has long fascinated me but I've never actually had the time to sit down and find out much about it.
This troubled region has long been seen as backwards and troublesome in traditional Western narratives, ranging from Bismark's prediction that the war would begin over 'some damned foolish thing in the Balkans' to the general perception that the region is always a half-step outside of modernity- a perception that Glenny turns on its head with his well-defended thesis that Western Europe bears much of the blame when it comes to the history of warfare that has rocked the region over the course of the past century.
Glenny's narrative opens in the early 19th Century, which saw the acceleration of the long decline of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence, slowly but surely of national movements all across the region- Serbia being amongst the first to break away, followed quickly by Greece and then Bulgaria- and then the rest.
As the Ottoman Empire grew weaker, the European powers grew progressively more predatory. It took about a century to do it, but eventually, the Ottomans were essentially chased out of Europe, confined to the small chunk of land west of Istanbul that Turkey holds today.
In it's wake, the Ottoman Empire left a new region for the great powers to squabble over. Austria-Hungry pushed deep into what is now Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia- Russia tied itself to Serbia and soon the other Great Powers were jockeying for influence as well, creating a system of alliances so complex and so rigid that when Gavarilo Princip shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand in , the explosion that followed afterward seemed almost inevitable.
Through the tumultuos period of the First and Second Balkan War, which laid the groundwork for the bloody nationalisms which racked the region after the end of the Cold War through the equally chaotic interwar period of the various dictatorships that emerged and into the horrors and bloodshed of the Second World War and the long hard Cold War, the Balkans have been victims of the power politics of the era time and time again and the series of wars and ethnic strife that has resulted has been the collateral damage of great power meddling that encouraged nationalism and pitted one country against the other to further their own ends.
That's Glenny's thesis from page 1 and the next six hundred pages or so present more than enough evidence to back that up and then some. Thesis aside, the sheer amount of knowledge that Glenny backs into his book is impressive, to say the least.
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I know a lot more about pretty much every country in the region now. I did think Macedonia and Slovenia got short shrift- especially in his description of the events leading up to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. And Glenny completely glosses over the events of in Bulgaria, Albania and Romania at the expense of the rapidly disintegrating Yugoslavia. But then again, Glenny is faced with the extremely hard task of bringing the distinct cultures and histories of these countries together into one overarching volume- so it's probably inevitable some things got missed, but Glenny does an extraordinary job pulling it off.
It's no surprise that he's written another book, The Fall of Yugoslavia.
MORE BY MISHA GLENNY
That has now 'fallen' onto my Amazon. Overall: It's kind of a long, hard slog, but it's oh so worth it- you want to get your knowledge on about the Balkans? Want to understand why we were bombing Kosovo way back when? This is the book for you! Misha Glenny has undertaken a monumental task, to provide a readable, one volume history of what amounts to 13 countries over the relatively short period from Glenny covers this large geopolitical region by picking a time or an event and writing about how it effected the different countries.
At times the book felt disorganized because he would jump from one country to another. Sometimes there are repetitio Misha Glenny has undertaken a monumental task, to provide a readable, one volume history of what amounts to 13 countries over the relatively short period from Sometimes there are repetitions, but it goes to show that everyone was interfering or somehow involved with everyone else.
He provides some helpful maps in the beginning of the book, and a glossary of mostly Turkish and Muslim terms in the back. What would be extremely useful for future editions is a character list. The hardest part of this book is that he talks about hundreds of people, leaders, politicians, rebels, artists, etc.
A glossary of major players would have increased my comprehension of all that went on. I mostly focused on understanding the context of what has happened to the people of the Balkans, rather than trying to retain all of the explicit details of the politicking and battles. In many ways this book was a horrifying read. It is no wonder that Glenny says it took him 4 years to write it. It took me many months to read because I had to take breaks. The violence emanating from this text is so strong that it would effect my mood by the time I had read my pages for the day. And this is just reading about it.
I cannot imagine what the poor people living in this region have gone through, what the reality of the massacres really is. Glenny writes with dispassionate compassion. It is obvious that he cares much for this region and its people by the way he comes down so hard on Western Europe, and toward the end, the U.
The Balkans by Misha Glenny: | buttletmosulhourg.ga: Books
As the Ottoman Empire was being dismantled at the end of the 19th century the Austro-Hungarians, the Germans, the French and the British tried to reorganize the region into countries that would suit their economic purposes, completely disregarding any natural nation building that would have happened.
They stirred up the nationalism and ethnic divides that have led to brutal massacres again and again, because warring groups are people easily manipulated. The West has never taken responsibility for their sins in the region and Glenny makes the case that it is the people of the Balkans who are victims of the West, not the other way around. The Balkans were not the powder keg, as is so often believed: the metaphor is inaccurate. They were merely the powder trail that the great powers themselves had laid. Glenny enlightens the reader as to why Franz Ferdinand was murdered.
It had always been taught to me as somewhat vague, that the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne was just vacationing through Sarajevo when he was shot, when in reality he had been interfering with Serbia for quite some time. Glenny does not infantilize the populations of the Balkans. His condemnation of the Great Powers does not excuse the manipulators, criminals, corrupted politicians and the perpetrators of violence who wreak havoc in the region and have prevented stable nations from developing for so long.
He describes how most of the countries had peasant foundations and they were urbanized without the social building of education and job opportunities. Add into this the fierce competition between the Muslims, Jews and Christians of the region and sensitivities flare. This makes it very easy to cause a conflagration at the whim of whoever has seized power for the moment.
Another theme of the book is the interactions that the different ethnicities of the region have with each other.
Bulgaria and Greece also come into conflict over Macedonia. He explains why the first Yugoslavia failed and why the second one was destined to fail. Croats and Serbs were being played off of each other instead of being encouraged to work together to create a real nation where equality is sought.
lolofili.tk He describes the horrors of the Communist era for Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. But his regime was cruel too. Glenny also spends a fair amount of time discussing Turkey and the influence they had and then lost on the region.
Glenny does not spare the reader the atrocities that happen all over the region throughout the centuries. However, he also does not revel in it. This allowed me to read about some terrible things and keep my compassion for the region. While it seems like there are no good guys, Glenny reminds the reader over and over again that it is always the civilians who are massacred, who have to pick up the pieces and try again. There is a survival instinct that brings hope to the region. Glenny ends the book with describing the utter uselessness of NATO or the UN to stop the ethnic cleansings and the extreme violence that happened when Yugoslavia broke up in He goes into detail about what caused the breakdown and how it spiraled into the unfortunately recognizable style of warfare perpetuated on civilians that has been going on for centuries.
As a result of this Bosnia and Hercegovina are one country with two parts: the Federation and the Serbian portion, the Republic of Srpska. There is still a NATO base monitoring the situation. Kosovo is a sovereign nation according to some, though Serbia still contests it. Albanians in Kosovo are fighting for equality. Greece and Bulgaria both lay claim to portions of Macedonia.
Croatia and Montenegro have become vacation destinations and Slovenia has moved closer to Central Europe culturally.