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Kosovo: A Short History

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  325 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Kosovo, a 55-mile-long plateau south of Serbia bordering Albania & Macedonia, should by all rights be a historical & political backwater. A Bulgarian geographer who visited Kosovo during WWI remarked it was "almost as unknown & inaccessible as a stretch of land in Central Africa." The observation would prove ironically fitting by the '90s, as Central Africa & Kosovo both b ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Perennial/Harper Collins (NYC) (first published 1998)
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Boris Krsmanovic
Apr 08, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is not a proper history book. Its a biased work with clear tendency to rewrite history in such a way to justify the policy and military involvement of NATO countries in Kosovo conflict. Its full of constructions, dubious claims, omitting and twisting that its on border of being a political column. Definitely not serious history work, and completely one sided and misleading book.
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I sure hope there's an update to this book, because it stops well before the events of 1999. It's still worth a read, however, to gain an understanding of Kosovo -- and how the Kosovo Question is tied up with both Serbia and Albania. Much of the book is fascinating and makes for a quick read; however, I tended to get bogged down in the longer descriptions of battles. That's just a reflection on what interests me, though, so in general I'd say it's a must-read for anyone either interested in Koso ...more
My purpose reading this book was to get a deeper insight into the history of this place - as the titel suggests the book ought to offer.
Already at the first chapters of the book it becomes clear to an attentive reader that the author had a different purpose writing this book - namely, to justify Albanian claims for the territory. Although, he is trying to hide his purpose very well, so that to an uninformed reader this one-sidedness is maybe hidden.
Generally, the author focuses too much on Alban
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a very informative book about the history of Kosovo, but it reads like a history textbook. While it does offer a comprehensive history, it seems to be a little more pro-Kosovar than it is objective.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A clear lining out of how Serbian "martyrdom" has 700 years of history behind it. And, from there, the vectors are traced to Serbian thuggery, starting 100 years ago in the two Balkan Wars. ...more
Theodore Vasilic
Jul 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
A very obvious propaganda work that justifies Albanian terrorism in Kosovo. Not worth a read at all.
Damir Marusic
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is the definitive English-language history on Kosovo. It ruffled feathers of both Albanians and Serbs with its relentless detective-like efforts to shatter myths which still beset the region.

I read this book a while ago, and am re-reading it again as things heat up in the region. Also recommended: Malcolm's BOSNIA: A SHORT HISTORY.
Katarina Tadic
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Subjective, not very balanced (I recommend reading a review by Tim Judah in the Economist), but as someone who did not know much about the political history of Kosovo in the last one and a half century, I have found many information and facts were useful though.
Matthew Griffiths
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly enjoyable discussion of the many myths that people assume are fact about Kosovo. This work follows on from Malcolm's book on Bosnia, another of the former Yugoslavia's trouble zones and similarly serves to demonstrate that much of what we think we know and accept about fact in this region is far from it and indeed is more often than not highly politicised myths that aim at proving the validity of one sides arguments over the others.
Would highly recommend this work to anyone interes
Erik Graff
Sep 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Having read Malcolm's history of Bosnia and having learned much from it, I was predisposed to pick up his history of Kosovo, another region in what was formerly Yugoslavia. However, since I have only glancingly met any Kosovars but have known far more Bosnians, I did not get as much out of this book as I did out of the former. Still, as an introduction to the land, its people and the reasons it remains a politically contested part of the world, this will serve well. ...more
Alex Marshall
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it
If you're choosing one of Noel Malcolm's Balkan histories, I'd recommend this over his book on Bosnia - given the outcome of both conflicts, this is the one that seems more vital especially his demolishing of myths around the country's past and whether it 'belongs' (if that's the right word) to Serbia, or the Albanians, or to a mixture of them. And despite his obvious opinion, he leaves you asking enough questions about nationalism and belonging that it's more than a simple history ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent primer on the history of Kosovo. Mr.Malcolm informs us about the entire history of the land within 500 pages. The writing is clear and easy to comprehend. The relationship between Albanians and Serbs are given in detail. As a layman to this area of the Balkans, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. There is certainly a bias towards one side in the book, but I felt as if he was fair to both sides. I only wished he would cover the 98 - 99 war period. Highly recommended!
Drilon Krasniqi
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book, historical facts that i myself tried to explore and study before reading this book!
Kosovo and Albanians in general are really some mystical and intresting people and nation, that their culture and heritage need to be studied further!
I suggest u to read it.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
An interesting read that covers a great deal of Kosova's past. Just keep in mind that it was written awhile back, so ends in 1997 before Kosovo even declared their independence. ...more
Meral Ma
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great overview of the history of Kosovo with special emphasis deconstructing the myth of both sides(although mostly Serbian ones,he does push back against Albanian ones too).
Noel Malcolm show that to view Kosovo as belonging to the 'Serbians' or 'Albanians' as the idea of 'Pure' Nation-States is not some ancient natural order but a product of 19th Century European Nationalism.
Kosvo was part of the Byzantine Empire since its split from the western Roman Empire and a relatively unimportant regio
Nita Bahtiri
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a Kosovo-albanian, this is the first time I read a book about the history of my homeland in relation to Serbia and Albania – which is written from a western author.
It does indeed confirm some of the theories of what I have learned about the history of Kosovo while growing up there, but I must say that most of the content involved things that I had no previous knowledge of. So this book was very much worth-reading 500 pages of!

Much of the content was disturbing to me though, when it comes to
John Farebrother
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The similarities between this and the author's book on Bosnia run deeper than the cover and layout. Again, it came out just in time for the Kosovo war, and as such was popular with aid workers and others at the time. Also like its predecessor, it provides an excellent historical overview of the KiM "autonomous region" and the wider Balkans, right through the early medieval period to the 20th century. But when it comes to recent history, it is equally predisposed to one side in the conflict - as ...more
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Malcolm’s book is an essential piece of revisionist history in the Balkans. In the past, Slavic perpetrators of genocide have sabotaged firsthand accounts from Kosovan history. This account of Kosovan history aims to cancel that out. Must-read if you want to form an informed opinion about the conflict in Kosovo.
Gordon Howard
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
A decent history of this Balkan nation - more than enough for anyone other than a professor of Balkan history. Comes out on the Albanian side of things regarding more recent history (which for Kosovo would be everything since 1912).
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great Book! I really liked the detail that goes into describing the history of Kosovo from Both Perspectives. I would definitely recommend the Book for anyone who is interested in the history of Kosovo.
William Smith
Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: european-history
“All historical writing, even the most honest, is unconsciously subjective, since every age is bound, in spite of itself, to make the dead perform whatever tricks it finds necessary for its own peace of mind.”
― Carl Lotus Becker.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
much more information about a country I happlily worked in for many years, but not sure I understand the historical issues any better for it,
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Fascinating treatment of a part of the world at the crossroads of Europe and the Ottoman Empire. The history is far more nuanced than the reporting would have you believe. Impossibly complicated.
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gives a full picture of a complicated history. It can be a slog at times but helped me understand Kosovar and Balkan history to their roots, far beyond what is commonly known
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating short (??) history of this beleaguered country. Marvelously researched and densely detailed. Really an impressive work.
Erzen Llapashtica
Apr 18, 2021 rated it liked it
damn it drags
Jun 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in the history of kosovo and how that is connected to contemporary events
Shelves: europe
an especially interesting quote:

All origins become mysterious if we search far enough into the past. And almost all peoples, when we look at their earliest origins, turn out to have come from somewhere else. Before embarking on these origin quests, it is good to keep a few qualifying principles firmly in mind. First, it can never be said too often that questions of chronological priority in ancient history-- who got there first-- are simply irrelevant to deciding the rights and wrongs of any pr
Oct 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
This history traces this history of Kosovo from the murky origins of the peoples who would later become identified with the region until the end of the 20th century.

This book illustrates how much people base their identity on a politically correct versions of events. A history of this sort is crucial in counteracting the oversimplifications, distortions, and sometimes even lies and fabrications that ideology imposes upon our understanding of who we are and where we come from.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
So relevant as independence issues swirl in Kosovo. Malcolm is amazingly thorough in his research, and it is hard not to be impressed by his scope. A very accessible historical book if you are interested in the region.
Jared  L
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I thought the humor and portrail of the book was a accurate depiction of the realities of the conflict.
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