MILOSEVIC by Dusko Doder


Portrait of a Tyrant
Email this review


Two experienced international reporters examine the life and political career of the Yugoslav president. Doder (foreign correspondent for the Washington Post) and Branson (correspondent for The Scotsman), who most recently teamed to write Gorbachev: The Last Tsar (1990), begin this highly critical biography in March 1999 as US envoy Richard Holbrooke tries in vain to convince Slobodan Milosevic to sign a Kosovo treaty with NATO. They turn then to charting the career of Milosevic (whose first name derives from a Serbo-Croatian word for “freedom”) from his “humble and inauspicious” birth in 1941 to Serbian parents to his tragic miscalculation of NATO’s resolve during the bombing campaign of 1999. A talented student (first in his high school class and near the top of his law school class at Belgrade University), Milosevic rose slowly to power by attaching himself to the more ambitious and charismatic Ivan Stambolic and then ousting him, principally by stirring—and shaking—the “potent cocktail of Serb nationalism.— From the subtitle on, the authors can barely restrain their contempt for their hero. They condemn his “consummate capacity for lying, intrigue, and secrecy” and dub him “the Saddam Hussein of Europe” and “the high priest of chaos.— Drawing on their many years of experience in Yugoslavia, Doder and Branson guide readers skillfully through the murky labyrinth of Balkan history, pausing to explain the sources of the ethnic hatreds that erupted when the years of Communist domination came to an end, and summarizing with brilliant clarity such recent diplomatic events as the Dayton peace accords and the subsequent talks in Rambouillet, France (a “debacle,” they conclude). No one in the region, we learn, wears a white hat. Doder and Branson remind us, for example, that Albanians fought with Germany during WW II—and massacred Serbs in the process. A clear, well-crafted guide to a volatile region; a devastating analysis of the depravity of a despot. (1 map, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-84308-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999