A Biography

December 2008 9781850659433 478pp
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Robert J. Donia explores Sarajevo’s history from its founding in the fifteenth century to the present. In its Ottoman heyday Sarajevo was synonymous with learning, its skyline punctuated by the minarets and domes of mosques and madrasas. Under Tito it was a haven of multiculturalism where Yugoslavs lived and worked together, irrespective of their ethnic or religious affiliations. The Siege of Sarajevo (1992–5) and its aftermath receive particular attention in Donia’s compelling account, the most detailed to appear in English to date.


‘Donia’s Sarajevo: Biography of a City is an exceptionally significant work, the result of years of research, archival exploration and scholarly interest in Sarajevo and its history. A work of comprehensive scholarship, it is also profoundly personal, and the tale of the city’s history unwinds like a novel. As a biography of the city in the true sense of the word, it is an extraordinary achievement. The author’s innovative approach treats Sarajevo from a wholly different perspective, not only as the setting for historical events but as a primary hero in a biography.’ — The Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Bosnia-Herzegovina

‘Dr. Robert Donia has written the best book in any language on the recent history of Sarajevo-one of the most complex, fascinating, and misunderstood cities in the world. Dr. Donia has known Sarajevo intimately since the 1970s, and understands the richness, and the sometimes tragic complexity of its multi-cultural heritage. Sarajevo: Biography of a City is informed by a profound historical understanding and a broad human sympathy. It is mercifully free from ethno-religious bias or political partisanship, although, precisely for that reason, it will no doubt be attacked by bigots and and chauvinists of several persuasions.’ — Prof. William Hunt, Department of History, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York

‘This is not just a biography, but a labor of love that is evident throughout this engaging and erudite account. Nobody knows more than Donia about Sarajevo’s storied past, its rich legacy of multiethnic coexistence, and the challenges that have been imposed upon it by the alien forces of ethnic nationalism.’ — Charles Ingrao, Professor of History, Purdue University


Robert Donia is a Research Associate at the University of Michigan's Center for Russian and East European Studies, a Visiting Scholar in history at the University of California at San Diego, and holds a courtesy appointment as Associate Professor of History at the University of Sarajevo. He is the author of Islam under the Double Eagle: The Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1878-1914, and co-author with John V.A. Fine of Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Tradition Betrayed. He has served as an expert witness in seven war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

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