Is it over yet?
Misha Glenny who has taken us through the Third Balkan war as a journalist, now turns historian in this superb analysis of the Balkan region from 1804 to 1999. He is crisp and thorough. His knowledge of the region and the people is profound. One doesn't care what condition the book is in, one cares very much for its subject. The moves from Austrian and Ottoman Empire to National states to Communism and disintegration to the genocidal wars of the nineties are deftly handled and leave one asking: Is it over yet?
Writing from a South African perspective, where Empire, Nationalism and Communism are very current issues, this volume serves as a cautionary tale: personalities drive politics more directly than the policies they serve. We were fortunate and thankful in having both Nelson Mandela and F.W.De Klerk. Twenty years down the line we have our difficulties, but at least there was a negotiated peace when there was the threat of civil war way back in 1994.
One cannot help but respond with sympathy to all those unfortunates caught in the maelstrom of hatred and violence in the Balkans during the 20th Century, whatever side they were on. The conflicting religions, the pervasive ideologies, and the toxic politics account for the imposition of endemic misery.
This substantial volume is worth a place on the bookshelf of a serious reader of history.