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The Ugly Breakup of the Balkans

By James Pettifer

Columbia University Press, $50.00, 380 pages

The Balkans is a region that is beset by history. It is impossible to escape, in an era where history is supposed to be over; that we have moved beyond history, into a modern world, the Balkans still seem to be stuck in the past.  Living through the decisions, mistakes, and the Great Game played at the Congress of Berlin in the late-1800s.  Where the main leaders of Europe decided on the fate of the Balkans and created the modern region that we know today with Greater Serbia, what became Yugoslavia, and then broke down in the 1990s into a series of bitter wars that led to massacres of civilians by both sides.

In this book, author James Pettifer looks into the history of the most recent conflict that occurred in Kosovo.  A tiny part of the old Yugoslavia lead to a conflict with America in an air war.  Mr.  Pettifer does an excellent job explaining the back history of this conflict, and the many years that it raged as a low level insurgency. His analysis is astute, and his condemnation of the United States, Great Britain, and the other players are interesting.  Even though he falls into the alphabet soup trap with acronyms, it does not distract from the rest of the work and its importance to understanding modern Balkan history. Readers wanting to know more about modern Balkan history will want to read this book.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter

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