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Salonika – City of Ghosts

Mark Mazower                                    Harper Collins              ISBN 0 00 712023 0

This is a fascinating narrative history of this most cosmopolitan of Balkan cities. Starting from the Ottoman conquest through to the modern Greek city it describes the contribution Muslims, Christians and Jews made to the city. Well illustrated and recommended.

Badlands and Borderlands

T.J. Winnifrith                           Duckworth                   ISBN 0715632019

This is a history of Southern Albania and Northern Epirus from the earliest times until the present day. This is one of my favourite parts of the Balkan’s. A beautiful largely mountainous region with a fascinating history. Starting with the Illyrians through the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Ottomans and the wars of the twentieth century. All have made their mark on the region in buildings, place names and the peoples who reside there. The author has written a well constructed history which is essential reading before a visit. Admittedly, not a gripping narrative, but worth persevering with.

Concise Historical Atlas of the Balkans

Dennis Hupchick                      Palgrave                    ISBN 0 312 23970 X

This is one of those really useful books which should be ready to hand on every Balkanist's bookcase. Some 50 maps together with a concise text takes the reader through the history of the Balkans from the 6th century to the present day. Excellent.

Slovenia and the Slovenes

James Gow & Cathie Carmichael      Hurst          ISBN   1 85065428 X

Whilst most historians place Slovenia outside the Balkans its history is inextricably linked with the peninsula. This book is a general introduction looking at the history and culture with an emphasis on the 20th century and  Slovenian experience within Yugoslavia and subsequent independence.

Who are the Macedonians?

Hugh Poulton  

This is a 2nd edition of the author's 1995 book. The only significant change is a chapter on the Kosovo war. However, this remains an excellent introduction for the general reader.

The Balkans 1804 - 1999

Misha Glenny               Granta Books                   ISBN 1 86207 050 4

This book looks at the origins of the modern Balkan states from the Serbian uprisings of 1804 until the present day. Each chapter takes a broad time frame and provides a very readable general history. The author, a former BBC journalist, tells the story in a way which keeps the readers interest throughout.

His main thesis is the relationship between the great powers and the Balkan states. He argues that this interference has been catastrophic for the peoples of the Balkans. This thesis has been criticised as being oversimplistic - minimising the responsibilities of the Balkan states and their leaders for their own destiny. The author's views on recent events have also been attacked as inconsistent with his earlier work.

This is a political and diplomatic history. Wars are largely glossed over and there is little of direct interest to the military historian. None the less for a general history this is a very worthwhile read.

A History of the Balkans 1804 - 1945

Stevan Pavlowitch            Longman 1999                ISBN 0 582 04584 3

This  volume is a general history of the Balkans from the early nationalist uprisings until the end of world war two. The author looks at the national histories and how they compare during each period of history. There is also frequent reference to events in Western Europe which demonstrates the links with western development which are all to often ignored in the west. There is a useful guide to further reading in English emphasing that this is intended as a history for the general reader. A good reasonably well balanced history of the region.

A History of Romania

Kurt Treptow                    Romanian Cultural Foundation         ISBN 973 98091 0 3    740pp

This is a general narrative history of Romania written by a team of largely Romanian historians. It is well laid out, profusely illustrated with good colour maps. As might be expected this is a strongly nationalistic interpretation of Romanian history encompassing the whole of contemporary Romania. It argues that Romanian nationhood was established in ancient times and that this flowed neatly into the nineteenth century and the establishment of the modern Romanian state. Minorities get little recognition. Whilst it makes a good read the modern reader will find its style is a little too triumphant.

Kosovo: A Short History                                                        Noel Malcolm                 Macmillan

Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo     Miranda Vickers              Hurst

The current crisis in Kosovo should provide a ready market for these readable histories of Serbia's southern province. Neither are particular strong on the military history of the region although Noel Malcom's book is stronger on the historical background. His damning conclusions regarding Serbian historical claims have already excited considerable comment in the relevant newsgroups. Miranda Vickers is more supportive of Serbian claims and concentrates on the present day conflict.

 

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