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Bosnia: A Short History


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NOEL MALCOLM, author of the widely acclaimed Bosnia: A Short History (also available from NYU Press), has been described by The New York Times as "President Clinton's favorite Balkans expert."


To explain the origins of the current conflict in Bosnia, Malcolm reaches back to Turkish occupation, Austro-Hungarian rule, both world wars and the era of Stalinist oppression under Toti. He contends that ``ethnic cleansing'' is not a by-product of the current war but a central element in the Serbian goal of creating homogeneous Serb enclaves that eventually will join together in a Greater Serbia. Malcolm condemns Western interference, singling out politicians and diplomats who attempt to suppress the war's symptoms instead of treating its causes. He argues persuasively that the United Nations-imposed arms embargo against Bosnia opened the way to that nation's destruction, and that the vaunted Vance-Owen peace plan was only slightly less disastrous. It led to a genuine Bosnian civil war, ruining the only effective barrier against the Serbs, the Croat-Muslim alliance. Political columnist for London's Daily Spectator, Malcolm has covered the Balkans for 15 years. (Sept.)

The collapse of former Yugoslavia and the ensuing war have shifted scholarly attention to its successor states. Malcolm's success consists in demonstrating why Bosnia-Hercegovina's distinctive history demands such an approach. The mix of elements include the region's geographic "remoteness" from other centers of power, its unusual Slav and non-Slav blend of population, and its status as an object of neighboring rivalry. The author cogently dispels the myths of forcible conversion to Islam by the Ottomans as well as the notion of a "fundamentalist threat" from an Islamic Bosnia. Although Malcolm is least comfortable in dealing with the segment of Bosnia's history as a part of Yugoslavia, he makes the case that its subsequent destruction was an object of "rational strategy" rather than religious hatred. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ.-Erie

"An acute, readable introduction to why and how racial history has been the bane of the Balkans and why it need not be." -Village Voice Literary Supplement "Quite simply one of the best books of historical scholarship written for a general audience in the last decade." -New York Newsday "By far the best available guide to the fatal steps to catastrophe ... Thoughtful, lucid, and deeply informed." -New York Review of Books "An extraordinary book--the best available in English on the background of the Bosnian war." -Warren Zimmermann,former U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia, in the National Interest "This book is essential for anyone to understand the present conflict ...a splendid work of synthesis on a very complex subject, written with insight and sympathy: the best, indeed the only informed book on a history that has become both topical and tragic." -Sunday Telegraph

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