Milosevic

Article excerpt

MISCELLANEOUS

A biography

Adam LeBor

London: Bloomsbury, 2002, xxvi, 386pp, [Symbol Not Transcribed]20.00, ISBN 0-7545-6090-0

There is no shortage of books - of good books, indeed - about the recent history of what we will no doubt have to stop calling 'Yugoslavia.' A respectable library is also developing on the subject of the 'evil genius' who presided over Yugoslavia's disintegration, Slobodan Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed]. Some of the best of these books were written by journalists who were covering the area at the time and had opportunity to meet some of the protagonists (usually not Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed] himself, but more often his associates) and to witness at least some of the extraordinary events in the fifteen years it took to tear Yugoslavia apart.

Adam LeBor was a reporter for the Times and the Independent (both British newspapers) during the Yugoslav wars and has taken full advantage of his sources to write a memorable and highly readable account of Yugoslavia's fall, with a particular focus on Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed] and his role in bring the country to ruin. He interviewed many of Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed]'s close associates, political rivals, and even members of his family, and is able to draw a uniquely rounded picture of the Serbian leader through the course of his career.

Some of what LeBor has written was already widely known or suspected, such as the continuing discussions with the Croatian president, Franjo Tudjman (through an intermediary), about, inter alia, carving up Bosnia-Herzegovina between them, for which LeBor provides a wealth of substantiating detail. That was at a time when Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed] was full of confidence in his ability to carry his people with him and to charm and manipulate everyone else. In darker times, both during the three months of street demonstrations in the winter of 1996-7 against the rigging and falsification of municipal elections and while NATO bombs were raining on Belgrade, LeBor quotes sources to the effect that the Serbian leader was drunk a good deal of the time. His associates from earlier and more confident days would not have believed it possible.

LeBor is particularly interesting in his account of the days surrounding Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed]'s departure from office. …