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The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999
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The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  631 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In a timely, passionate survey of Balkan history since the early 29th century Glenny provides essential background to recent events in this war-torn area. No other book covers the entire region & offers such profound insights into the roots of Balkan violence, or explains so vividly the origins of modern Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania & Albania. ...more
Hardcover, 752 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Viking (NY) (first published 1999)
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Jacob Aitken
This book was a journey. I have mixed thouhts. Misha opened my eyes to a world of good information. His thesis is sound: the Balkans only become a "powder keg" when the Western powers get involved. This is especially true of NATO"s satanic bombing of Serbia in '99. However, I critique him on one point. He says the religious issue isn't as important as the interventionist one. But this only downplays subjective valuation in historical study. But i digress.

The Good Points:

It was a *very* thorough
Erik Graff
Jun 10, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: South Slav fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Much of what I read is to better understand friends. The influx of refugee Bosnians into our East Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago and my own former sister-in-law's mixed Yugoslav identity (Serb and Bosnian)--one now being instilled in my niece--has led me to read many books about the history and politics of the Balkans.

Of all the books I've read on the subject so far, Glenny's is most sympathetic and constructive. Rather than blame the peoples of the Balkans for some occult primitivism, he p
This book was a really informative overview of the Balkan region in recent history, and I felt like it was a pretty complete treatment. However, it seemed a little jumbled at times, and there was some jumping back and forth in time. This is probably because the topic is so complex . One thing I got out of the book is that the Balkans are a very complicated region and blanket statements don't apply. It would be nice if the author included more detailed maps that include all the places mentioned i ...more
Christian Olson
I both enjoyed and struggled with this book. It is stunning how much information is in this book. The author must have done an insane amount of research to get all the regional histories and perspectives. However, I did struggle. It is long. It is slow in parts. The tone is flat for long stretches. I think the "take away" is I learned a bunch about a subject I knew little about before. There were entertaining parts, just a little tough to give it a whole hearted recommendation.
Tom Nixon
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 1804 to 1999.

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 book is a bit dense and if you are not really interested in the history of this region than you might get lost in the endless littany of names and places and battles and coups. That being said, if you are really interested in Balkans history and how this region was shaped from inside and out over the past 200 years, then this book is great. It takes so many thing into account including the great power relationships, individual country cultures and histories and the interaction between the t ...more
Misha Glenny neemt in dit boek de hele Balkan onder de loep over de periode 1804-1999. De periodisering is wellicht niet toevallig. Glenny wil vooral aantonen dat de hedendaagse conflicten in Joegoslavië geen stammenconflicten zijn, een strijd tussen wilde onbeschaafde volkeren, maar hun oorsprong vinden in het nationalisme, dat ontstond in de 19de eeuw en dat aan de basis ligt van de moderne Balkanstaten. Meer bepaald ziet hij terecht in de Napoleontische oorlogen en de instelling van de Illyri ...more
Emilian Kasemi
Ballkani nuk ishte fuçia e barutit sikunder mendohet shpesh: kjo metafore nuk eshte e sakte. Ai ishte thjesht detonatori i vene aty nga vete Fuqite e Medha. Fuçia e barutit ishte Evropa.
good, but long, overview of Balkan history. Well written in short segments with frequent reiteration of the key points. Keeps you anchored in spite of the tsunami of info.
Excellent overview of Balkan history in the last 200 years or so.
Dermott Hayes
Comprehensive overview, extraordinary detail
Peter Crouse
The Balkans by Misha Glenny is a fascinating read about Europe's troubled heart of darkness. Whereas a typical history would base itself on the view-from-above or on the all too obvious perspective of an outsider, Glenny first drills down to the small scale, involving vivid first-hand experiences, and extrapolates his general descriptions and conclusions from there. Not only does this give the work a fresh, almost journalistic, feel; the author's talent also ensures the narrative never sinks int ...more
Egzon Hasanaj
The book "The Balkans: Nationalism.War and the Great Powers" was a phenomenal book. The author crafted the book so that the reader can understand the purpose of the many disputes I'm the Balkans. For example, the book talked about the 1999 Kosovo War and how it was created, and the author did that on purpose so the reader could understand how the disputes were formed. To be more specific, it states "The 1999 Kosovo War happened because of a huge dispute between Ethnic Albanians and Serbians for ...more
I was looking for a comprehensive account of the history of the Balkans region - well, this is certainly that book, at least from 1804 on. Misha Glenny takes the reader through the twists and turns of Balkan history over the last 200 years, hitting Serbia, Greece, the Ottoman Empire, Croatia, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Montenegro, etc., in about 700 pages. To say that it is a very complicated narrative is an understatement, and Mr. Glenny explains it exceedingly well, particularly with respect ...more
amazing, detailed book about all of the Balkans, especially up to 1989. The last ten years involving the war in Bosnia is smaller, but all the background covered is very helpful in understanding this most recent period. One gets a better understanding of all the trouble caused by the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarian empire, Germany, Italy, and including NATO most recently. I think I will have to reread the last part of the book, too much to take in all at once.
This is based on the first 400 pages of "The Balkans". I am familiar enough with the World War II, post-war and post 1989 periods to not feel I missed much in skipping those parts of the book.

Glenny is a journalist. "The Balkans" whips along like many good pieces of reporting strung together, concentrating on great men, battles and peace conferences while ignoring religion (other than outlines of the clashes between and among Orthodox Catholics, their Roman facing brethren and the Islam of the O
I read this history while traveling in Croatia. It opened my eyes to the interplay of different empires claiming this region in determining the current politics of these countries. It explores themes from the split between western and eastern halves of the Roman empire in determining the sphere of influence of Orthodox and Catholic forms of Christianity. A powerful narrative is the role that the decay of the Ottoman empire and the subsequent revolution of people identify, rights, and responsibil ...more
Huw Evans
The post-Imperial history of Africa is a demonstration of the perils of imposing artifical boundaries across tribal lands. A closer example of this heinous stupidity is found in the Balkans, an area that even today is regarded by most europeans as vestigial and primitive. In 1999 centuries of Balkan tribalism exploded into the Kososvo war which sucked in many nations in an attempt to prevent things escalating and,subsequently, demonstrated how inhumane we can be if the opposition is seen as sub- ...more
Mike  Kelley

As any student of European history will attest, the problems of the Continent always trace back to the Balkans in some form or another. While things have calmed down in the last 10 years or so, reading this book will remind one that it is usually only a lull before the conflict re-ignites once more. If one remembers the ethnic cleansing and violence of the 90s, this book will place it in a larger historical context all the back to the Ottomans. It is a remarkable feeling to finish this volume an
As a journalist Glenny is able to provide a detailed history of a complex region in a way that is both engaging and informative. His writing style avoids the dry and fact befuddling fate of many non-fiction books. While this can seem somewhat superficial at times, these instances are few and far between. Perhaps the weakest part of the book falls at the very end where I believe Glenny's proximity to the conflict (he served as a correspondent during the Balkan Wars) rendered him incapable of prov ...more
Matthew Griffiths
An excellent account of one of the most important areas in recent European history. From the spark that started world war 1 to the more recent breakup of Yugoslavia and secession of Kosovo this is an area of critical importance to the development of Europe and Glenny's work goes a long way to explaining the often convoluted and confusing story of the Balkans. many myths are debunked by this book and some concerns are raised for the future in regards several remaining flashpoints, for anyone inte ...more
George Hodgson
A very detailed account. For those interested in why things are happening in the Baltics, this helps explain a lot.
This was a sweeping history of the Balkans that provided great insights into the power dynamics that have pushed and pulled at the various groups of the region. Glenny's overall argument is that the people of the Balkans aren't innately violent as often portrayed. I feel like he successfully makes this point.
Sprawling history of a region that is of particular interest. The legacy of Great Game-type diplomacy figured largely in post WW II territorial disputes and conflicts, all the way up to and including Kosovo. None of the great powers come off looking so well.
This was a very well written book. I am no master of the history of the Balkans, but I found this book to be extremely comprehensive in the context of single books describing the events and history of a single part of the world. It is comprehensive and thorough; I imagine that if I had been a Slavic cultural studies major that this would have been my like my Bible (in a purely un-blasphemous sense.) And with this entry, I now have more books than friends; I blame it on wasting my time reading th ...more
A good book
An very readable and consistently unbiased account of this lesser known region. At times, I wished it went deeper into sociological history - but this book is primarily a journalistic account - one that is very well-researched.
Arguably the best survey history of the modern Balkans.
I don't normally read pure history / factual books but this tome was unputdownable. Glenny gives a fantastic brief to cover to terrible and brutal complexity that is Balkan politics and history, weaving in anecdotes that keep the history at a human level.

I feel far more informed not just about the region but about the machinations of the politics of the 'great powers' and the awful cost of power and greed.

Amazing characters run through this book; King Zog being one of the odder ones! Great writi
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