From the assassination that triggered World War I to the ethnic warfare in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, the Balkans have been the crucible of the twentieth century, the place where terrorism and genocide first became tools of policy. Chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, and greeted with critical acclaim as "the most insightful and timely work on the Balkans to date" (The Boston Globe), Kaplan's prescient, enthralling, and often chilling political travelogue is already a modern classic.
This new edition of Balkan Ghosts includes six opinion pieces written by Robert Kaplan about the Balkans between 1996 and 2000 beginning just after the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords and ending after the conclusion of the Kosovo war, with the removal of Slobodan Milosevic from power.
Kaplan, an American journalist who lived in Greece for seven years, is a gifted writer with a marvelous feel for the exotic, woolly, mountainous Balkan peninsula. This vividly impressionistic travelogue splices a long trip in 1990 with sojourns in the '80s and forays into history, resulting in an unpredictable adventure that illuminates the Balkan nations' ethnic clashes and near-anarchic politics. Kaplan dwells on Greece's modern political culture, which, he shows, has much closer ties to the multiethnic Balkans than is generally acknowledged. He views Romania's history as a long, desperate compromise with a succession of invaders, marred by decades of Turkish rule, Nazism and Communism. He talks with Gypsies, scales steep Baroque cities, tours Transylvania, Bulgaria and Albania and visits the remnant Jewish community of Salonika, which was decimated by the Nazis. Kaplan ( Soldiers of God: With the Mujahidin in Afghanistan ) sheds light on the Serb-Croat dispute, which he traces in part back to Croatia's fascists of WW II and to the Vatican's perceived stirring up of anti-Semitic feelings among Croats. He finds seeds of civil war germinating in Yugoslavia, where he confronts ``the principal illness of the Balkans: conflicting dreams of lost imperial glory.'' Photos.