On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence, becoming the seventh state to emerge from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. A tiny country of just two million people, 90% of whom are ethnic Albanians, Kosovo is central-geographically, historically, and politically-to the future of the Western Balkans and, in turn, its potential future within the European Union. But the fate of both Kosovo, condemned by Serbian leaders as a "fake state" and the region as a whole, remains uncertain.
In Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Tim Judah provides a straight-forward guide to the complicated place that is Kosovo. Judah, who has spent years covering the region, offers succinct, penetrating answers to a wide range of questions: Why is Kosovo important? Who are the Albanians? Who are the Serbs? Why is Kosovo so important to Serbs? What role does Kosovo play in the region and in the world? Judah reveals how things stand now and presents the history and geopolitical dynamics that have led to it. The most important of these is the question of the right to self-determination, invoked by the Kosovo Albanians, as opposed to right of territorial integrity invoked by the Serbs. For many Serbs, Kosovo's declaration of independence and subsequent recognition has been traumatic, a savage blow to national pride. Albanians, on the other hand, believe their independence rights an historical wrong: the Serbian conquest (Serbs say "liberation") of Kosovo in 1912.
For anyone wishing to understand both the history and possible future of Kosovo at this pivotal moment in its history, this book offers a wealth of insight and information in a uniquely accessible format.
What Everyone Needs to Know® is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press.
The war in Kosovo, Judah points out in his latest account of Balkan politics, didn't begin in 1999. A journalist covering the region for an array of Western publications (the Times of London, the New York Review of Books) throughout the 1990s, Judah (The Serbs) could see that Kosovo was on the brink of explosion--but until something tangible did erupt, his editors wouldn't print anything about it. In 1999, gruesome violence did erupt, culminating in NATO's 78-day bombing campaign. Now, having reported that conflict from the ground, Judah takes a step back to explore its roots in the events of the early 1980s and 1990s. Although not as strong as Noel Malcolm's 1998 book Kosovo: A Short History, Judah's work is an excellent addition to the literature about the Balkans. Drawing on both his firsthand experiences in the region and on secondary literature--and interspersing narrative history with journalistic accounts of warfare and fleeing refugees--he reflects on the longstanding local political struggles and the West's miscalculations. Along the way, he critically profiles Milosevic, NATO leaders (who thought this little war would last only a few days) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (whose own violent revenge began to sweep over Kosovo after the bombing ended). Well researched and melancholy, the book suggests that the bombing campaign was "a war of human error," in which "all the actors, in Serbia and in the West, just made mistake after mistake." This is an excellent introduction to the latest phase of Balkan warfare.