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The Death of Yugoslavia (BBC)

The Death of Yugoslavia (BBC) - Laura Silber Some of my updates still seem timely, but this edition, published not long after the war had ended, feels a bit like educated guesswork. That might make for exciting expose if it were written as a building mystery, but the book is clearly intended to be research and documentation.

Not sure what details have emerged in the intervening 18 years, but I will say that this edition begins very late in history, with Tudjman's rebellion against Tito's anti-ethnic version of authoritarian communism. It's my impression that Tito is still revered by a majority of former Yugoslavians, at least more than Tudjman, I hope, so it seemed a strange way to cast Tudjman as somehow heroic and then pepper the later chapters with one sentence caveats which may zip past readers with less than passing familiarity with Croatia's role in the conflict.

It's my opinion that Tudjman and the Croatians were extremely opportunistic in casting themselves as victims and heroes. It appears that splitting Yugoslavia and Bosnia had been pre-arranged between the Croatians and the Serbians and that the Croatians turned on their Bosnian allies from behind, while simultaneously committing war crimes against those and other Balkan neighbors. One documentary suggests that Tudjman even allowed a Croatian town to be decimated, just to win greater international support.

For all the focus on Croatian independence, the Croatians walked away with most of former Yugoslavia's coastline and a lot more geography they'd developed a liking for. Nor did independence stop Croatia from challenging Slovenia's right to a small section of that coastline of course.

In the very unlikely event that someone who still cares is reading this, I'm more than willing to be corrected, though I may increasingly lose interest in confirming that you're right.

More importantly, although it may be unfair to ask any journalist to become a letter-perfect historian, war in the Balkans seems to have much earlier, complex, and twisted origins. The authors allude to this well-known fact by suggesting Bill Clinton lost hope in peaceful solutions after reading the book Balkan Ghosts (not quite true according to Clinton's own autobiography, published after this edition was published). But the authors don't seem spend more than one sentence on that critical comment, or, generally speaking, enough time on the much longer history which seems intrinsic to so much Balkan conflict.