Christopher Bennett argues that Yugoslavia’s disintegration was not, contrary to accepted wisdom, the product of inherent and irrational ethnic animosities and centuries of strife — an interpretation which helps to vindicate the West’s policy of inaction. He suggests that the decisive turning-point came in 1987, when a struggle was waged within the Serbian Communist party between adherents of a Serb nationalist ideology (embodied by Slobodan Milosevic) and those Yugoslavs who clung to the concept of a multinational state. As soon as Milosevic gained the upper hand he ruthlessly purged his rivals and launched a massive campaign of media indoctrination to stir up Serb nationalist sentiment. This new Serb nationalism, which has so revolted the world since 1991, is thus Milosevic’s creation and not the result of historical enmity. The author’s examination of this phenomenon is set within a concise and accessible history of the former Yugoslavia.
‘This informative study describes how the Serbs […] disarmed Slovenian and Croatian forces in May 1990, leaving the territories they had protected virtually defenseless. […] Bennett calls ”unpardonable” the refusal of the international community to protect innocent victims of the Serbian rampage in Bosnia-Herzegovina.’ — Publisher’s Weekly
‘A dispassionate, intelligent introduction to the civil war that has destroyed the former Yugoslavia. […] Bennett has the good fortune to speak both Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian, a skill that has enabled him to draw heavily on literature of the region that would be unavailable to most American or British journalists.’ — Kirkus Reviews
‘An absolutely excellent must-read study. […] It overflows with fresh insight and clarity on each page.’ — Library Journal
Christopher Bennett reported from Yugoslavia before and during its breakup. He later became Balkans Director for the International Crisis Group in Sarajevo. From 2006–2014 he worked for the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia as, among other things, Communications Director and Deputy High Representative. He has taught Yugoslav history at the University of London, and is currently Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage in Sarajevo and honorary professor at De Montfort University in Leicester. He is the author of Yugoslavia’s Bloody Collapse (Hurst, 1995).