Synopses & Reviews
Who are the Serbs? Branded by some as Europe's new Nazis, they are seen by othersand by themselvesas the innocent victims of nationalist aggression and of an implacably hostile world media. In this challenging new book, Timothy Judah, who covered the war years in former Yugoslavia for the London Times
and the Economist
, argues that neither is true. Exploring the Serbian nation from the great epics of its past to the battlefields of Bosnia and the backstreets of Kosovo, he sets the fate of the Serbs within the story of their past.
This wide-ranging, scholarly, and highly readable account opens with the windswept fortresses of medieval kings and a battle lost more than six centuries ago that still profoundly influences the Serbs. Judah describes the idea of "Serbdom" that sustained them during centuries of Ottoman rule, the days of glory during the First World War, and the genocide against them during the Second. He examines the tenuous ethnic balance fashioned by Tito and its unraveling after his death. And he reveals how Slobodan Milosevic, later to become president, used a version of history to drive his people to nationalist euphoria. Judah details the way Milosevic prepared for war and provides gripping eyewitness accounts of wartime horrors: the burning villages and "ethnic cleansing," the ignominy of the siege of Sarajevo, and the columns of bedraggled Serb refugees, cynically manipulated and then abandoned once the dream of a Greater Serbia was lost.
This first in-depth account of life behind Serbian lines is not an apologia but a scrupulous explanation of how the people of a modernizing European state could become among the most reviled of the century. Rejecting the stereotypical image of a bloodthirsty nation, Judah makes the Serbs comprehensible by placing them within the context of their history and their hopes.
This history of the Serbs opens with the medieval kings of Serbia and a battle lost six centuries ago that still profoundly influences the Serbs. It then describes the idea of "Serbdom" and examines the tenuous ethnic balance fashioned by Tito and its drastic unravelling after his death.
Journalist Tim Judah witnessed firsthand many of the most horrifying episodes of the war in former Yugoslavia which he has covered since the first shot, in 1991. Judah offers here a history of the Serbs from medieval times to the present, combining a gripping personal description of the war with a skillful analysis of the historical and cultural context out of which it emerged. For this new paperback edition Judah adds observations on the rise of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the war in Kosovo, and NATO’s 78-day bombing campaign of Yugoslavia.
"A lively and balanced history of the Serbs that begins with their successful medieval efforts to establish a state and ends with their failed attempt in the 1990s to create Greater Serbia."—Aleksa Djilas, New York Times Book Review
"A very good book . . . Judah cleverly interprets Serbia’s sad present in the light of its past."—Sunday Times (London)
"Tim Judah writes splendidly. . . .The story he tells does much to explain both the Serb obsession with the treachery of outsiders and their quasi-religious faith in the eventual founding, or rather reestablishment, of the Serbian state."—Mark Danner, New York Review of Books
"Judah’s excellent book stands out in a cluttered field, offering the key to Serbia’s behavior over the past decade."—Kirkus Reviews
Updated with information on Kosovo, this "lively and balanced history of the Serbs" ("New York Times Book Review") combines a gripping personal description of the war in the former Yugoslavia with a skillful analysis of the historical and cultural context out of which it emerged. 48 illustrations.
Second edition on the history, myth and destruction of Yugoslavia, by this journalist who had first hand experience of the war.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 362-366) and index.