A dispassionate, intelligent introduction to the civil war that has destroyed the former Yugoslavia. A useful first book by Bennett, a British journalist who has the good fortune to speak both Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian, a skill that has enabled him to draw heavily on literature of the region that would be unavailable to most American or British journalists. Unlike many recent histories of the conflict, this volume dwells neither on the ancient ethnic squabbles of the Middle Ages nor on the appalling atrocities committed against the Bosnians. Instead, it traces political developments from the middle of the last century through the present, showing how the cynical manipulation of nationalist fervor for political gain has been a theme running throughout the region's recent history. Bennett's thesis is that there is little truth to the claims by some journalists that ``events which took place half a century earlier'' caused the current civil war. Rather, he places much of the blame on the local media for fanning the flames of ethnic hatred, in concert with politicians like Serbian leader Slobodan Miloevi. While there is no denying the pernicious role played by the media in the former Yugoslavia, Bennett may be just a little too quick to downplay the role of ethnic strife in the turmoil of the period between the world wars. On the other hand, it is helpful (and painful) to be reminded that Yugoslavia was once the great success story of the Eastern bloc. He is also concise and to the point in his treatment of the WW II period, reminding readers that the Croatian fascists were in fact a minority whose power was handed to them by Hitler and was not the expression of the will of the Croatian people, as some pro-Serb writers have alleged. A good, coolly analytical review of the Yugoslavian conflict.