ROAD TO SARAJEVO by Vladimer Dedijer


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The assassination of Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand, generally conceded to be the starting signal of WWI, is most often encountered in histories as the martyrization of a rather inconsequential prince. In the first part of the book, the author analyzes the Archduke and a figure emerges who, if stripped of titles, seems the stereotype of the petit bourgeois--narrowly educated, narrowly Catholic, stuffy, stubborn and dour. Even his one great romantic gesture is opened to question. His morganatic marriage to an unqualified aristocrat could have been a matter of heart over head, but might also be interpreted as his insistence on the divine right of kings to do as they pleased, a belief he held with imbecile imperialism, undoubtedly reinforced by his accidental promotion to the heir apparent's role after Rudolf's flamboyant suicide at Meyerling. It led him to flaunt his contempt for future subjects, his harassment of non-Catholic minorities, his grievance gathering against Franz Joseph's court, all short-sighted moves, all promising trouble for the future. This is a very different view of a greatly sentimentalized victim: while no one deserves to be shot, it is clear that he polarized hatreds and courted disaster. The second section of the book deals with an analysis of the political climate in Yugoslavia and Serbia. Here, the author's expertise in this inaccessible history and literature becomes evident and his material is fascinating. It shows the intrigues of the Black Hand organization and the rise of the anarchist philosophy of political assassination and attempts to explain the assassin. Long, carefully documented and very readable.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1966
Publisher: Simon & Schuster