LAST WORDS: A Memoir of World War II and the Yugoslav Tragedy by Boris Todorovich

LAST WORDS: A Memoir of World War II and the Yugoslav Tragedy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Yugoslav ‚migr‚'s tendentious but generally absorbing account of his WW II experiences. Todorovich (who became a successful insurance man after settling in the US) died in 1984, leaving literary executors to complete and annotate his oft-revised manuscript. He has been well served by the published text, which effectively blends dramatic first-person narrative with unobtrusive editorial explication and commentary. Trained as a professional soldier, Todorovich was taken prisoner when the Wehrmacht overran his country in 1941. Escaping from the Germans, the young captain (then 27) made his way across occupied Europe to Spain, where he secured passage to England. Detached from his nation's London-based government-in-exile for training as a paratrooper in Palestine, Todorovich eventually returned to Yugoslavia, where he campaigned with the Chetniks--a predominantly Serbian resistance movement headed by Draza Mihailovich. Their foes included not only Nazi troops and collaborators but also the Croat and communist guerrillas known as Partisans, who were led by Tito. By 1943, Anglo-American support had swung to Tito's forces, and Todorovich again fled Yugoslavia, this time through liberated Italy. Following a short but frustrating internment in Salerno, he was sent to Washington as a military attach‚ before Tito's triumphant communist regime dissolved the Royal Yugoslav Army. In the course of recounting his wartime odyssey, Todorovich makes a fine job of sorting out the ethnic and sociopolitical animosities that have undermined Yugoslavia throughout its checkered history. He also offers an impassioned defense of Mihailovich, who, despite his role in weakening the Reich's grip on the Balkans and saving hundreds of Allied airmen downed during raids on Axis targets, was executed in 1946 as a war criminal. In brief, then, a survivor's vivid and largely credible testament that sheds considerable light on a little-noted WW II theater beset by internecine conflicts whilst caught up in a global holocaust.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1989
Publisher: Walker