The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond

The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond

The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond

The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Synopsis

When it comes to the Balkans, most people quickly become lost in the quagmire of struggle and intractable hatred that consumes that ancient land today. Many assume that the genesis of the past ten years of atrocity in the region might have had something to do with Tito and his repressive Yugoslav regime, or perhaps with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The seeds were really planted much, much earlier, on a desolate plain in Kosovo in 1389, when the Serbian Prince Lazar and his army clashed with and were defeated by the Ottoman forces of Sultan Murad I.

In this riveting new history of the Balkan peoples, Andre Gerolymatos explores how ancient events engendered cultural myths that evolved over time, gaining psychic strength in the collective consciousnesses of Orthodox Christians and Muslims alike. In colorful detail, we meet the key figures that instigated and perpetuated these myths -- including the assassin/heroes Milos Obolic and Gavrilo Princip and the warlord Ali Pasha. Thislively survey of centuries of strife finally puts the modern conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo into historical context, and provides a long overdue account of the origins of ethnic hatred and warmongering in this turbulent land.

Excerpt

History can serve the present
as a mirror of the past.

- SSU-MA KUANG (1018-86), CHINESE STATESMAN
AND HISTORIAN OF THE NORTHERN SUNG DYNASTY

In 1989 I had just converted my doctoral dissertation on intelligence and guerrilla warfare in the Second World into a manuscript. And like most scholars, I had succeeded in elevating a turgid piece of writing into a tolerable academic publication. The fact that I managed the transition at all was due to the influence of Robert Vogel, certainly the greatest university teacher and historian I have ever encountered. Vogel was a military historian dedicated to the study of human conflict within the broad spectrum of history. The last time I saw him, in 1993, he suggested that I focus on the Balkan wars, suspecting that new conflicts in the region would be taken out of historical context. Robert lived long enough to be proven correct; he would have been amused by the avalanche of books published on the Balkans in the last seven years.

The primary purpose of The Balkan Wars is to demonstrate the continuity of war not as exclusive to this region but as part of the role of myth, history, and ethnic memory as a manifestation of conflict. To this end I have treated these subjects thematically and . . .

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