RESEARCH AND WRITING ON THE terrible conflicts in former Yugoslavia should be seen as more than academic exercises. Given the complexity of the issues, the bewildering sequence of developments in the region, and the intense discussion of the options available to the international community, the works now written with a certain expert authority will have a significant political impact in the future. Current studies will strongly influence the way in which the interested but non-expert observers and practitioners of international relations will draw their lessons from this crisis. As shown in the past, certain strongly held opinions may establish themselves as conventional wisdoms perpetuated because nobody questions them. This danger imposes on each scholar dealing with the events in the former Yugoslavia the particular obligation to screen carefully the factual evidence that has become available before arriving at conclusions on which others will build their arguments in the future. The new book by Susan Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, is one of the more ambitious and important contributions to the literature on the subject. The author brings certain advantages to her work: she is an expert on the political economy of former Yugoslavia, and she has worked there as senior adviser to the special representative of the UN Secretary General, Yasushi Akashi. Consequently, the book contains a wealth of detail, a great amount of subtle though sometimes repetitive reasoning, and many incisive insights. These qualities alone will deservedly assure it the attention of all those working on the subject, for they will be rewarded by a firework of always interesting, sometimes brilliant, but also quite often highly questionable observations. Ultimately, those focusing on the subject might feel confused as to the meaning of Woodward's assertions, given the lack of a thoroughly systematic and thereby more persuasive reasoning. This weakness of the book is further enhanced by Woodward's rather polemical approach to some of the issues, especially to the role of the international community. On the whole it must be said that the author has only partially fulfilled the obligation of approaching the subject with the appropriate painstaking care.