Glenny’s instinct for weaving complex political threads into powerful narration makes his history essential reading for...



A sorely needed and authoritative history of the Balkan peninsula.

The popular media have oversimplified the omnipresent Balkan crisis for the public, according to BBC correspondent-turned-historian Glenny (The Fall of Yugoslavia, not reviewed). They suggest that the backward Balkan populations have been at war over religion for centuries, and that the unrest in Bosnia and Kosovo are merely extensions of that historical hatred. To those who find this explanation inadequate, Glenny brings impressive historical research and his longtime Balkan journalist’s experience to bear on the problem. Rather than approaching the region as a conglomeration of pathologically static religious and ethnic feuds, he portrays the Balkans in constant reaction to the political and economic fluctuations of the great powers. Historically, when the great powers have intervened in the Balkans, they have done so with the very worst motives: whether they were filling the power vacuum left by the crumbling Ottoman Empire in 1878, playing for Austro-Hungarian influence in 1914, or jockeying for best positions during the military operations of WWII, the great powers invariably left the region an economic shambles for local politicians to sort out as best they could afterwards (which was usually not very well). Glenny ultimately suggests that the international community’s current policies of humanitarian intervention (such as the peacekeeping troops in Bosnia and Kosovo or the air war against Serbia) are doomed to failure if the great powers fail to address the need for economic investment in the region. While this final insight is open to debate, Glenny presents his argument with excellent historical examples and compelling journalistic prose.

Glenny’s instinct for weaving complex political threads into powerful narration makes his history essential reading for anyone striving to make sense of the seemingly impenetrable Balkan crisis. (12 maps)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-85338-0

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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