Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History

Overview

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, ...

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Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History

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Overview

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 includes six opinion pieces written by Robert Kaplan about the Balkans between l996 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.

From the assassination that set off World War I to the ethnic warfare sweeping Bosnia and Croatia, the Balkans have been the crucible of the 20th century--the place where terrorism and genocide were first practiced as tools of policy. This enthralling political travelogue helps us understand that region's anguish.

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Editorial Reviews

New Yorker
Vivid...sensitive...Combines political reporting and literary travel writing.
San Francisco Chronicle
A timely guide to the ethnic and religious passions of 'Europe's forgotten rear door.'
Boston Globe
...The most insightful and timely work on the Balkans to date.
New York Times Books of the Century
...The fantastic stories Kaplan gathers bring one closer to understanding the real history of the Balkans.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Journalist Kaplan's vivid, impressionistic travelogue illuminates the Balkan nations' ethnic clashes and near-anarchic politics.
Library Journal
This updated edition of Kaplan's 1993 original includes six new pieces written between 1996 and 2000. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Joe Collins
Most Americans know something about such European countries as Italy, France, Germany, and Russia, but few know about the area that's been in the headlines most lately. Luckily, American journalist Robert Kaplan acts as the perfect tour guide through the Balkan states. Kaplan's book reads like a combination history and travelogue as he interweaves historical tales of the struggles of Croats, Serbs, Romanians, and Bulgarians with his own experiences visiting with these proud people. Historical figures such as Yugoslavian dictator Marshall Tito, travelers John Reed and Rebecca West, and notorious leaders such as Greek president Andreas Papandreou and deposed Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu share center stage with the proud Romanian called Mahai, determined to use his energy not to hate his oppressors of the past but to improve the present. In addition, the reader will meet the educated Transylvanian named Gheorghe, a real-life Victor Kanarovsky from Doctor Zhivago; also the amiable Bulgarian Guillermo, who takes the author on a tour of Sofia while mesmerizing us with stories of government brutality and betrayal.
The New Yorker
Vivid...sensitive...Combines political reporting and literary travel writing.
New York Times Books of the Century
...[T]he fantastic stories [Kaplan] gathers bring one closer to understanding the real history of the Balkans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312087012
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 307
  • Product dimensions: 6.45 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert D. Kaplan, a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, is the author of ten books on travel and foreign affairs that have been translated into many languages. They included Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, a sequel to Balkan Ghosts, a sequel to Balkan Ghosts.

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Table of Contents

Prologue : saints, terrorists, blood, and holy water
Pt. 1 Yugoslavia : historical overtures
1 Croatia : "just so they could go to heaven" 3
2 Old Serbia and Albania : Balkan "West Bank" 29
3 Macedonia : "a hand thirsting towards the realm of the stars" 49
4 The white city and its prophet 71
Pt. 2 Romania : Latin passion play
5 Athenee Palace, Bucharest 79
6 The Danube's bitter end 100
7 Moldavia : "conditioned to hate" 117
8 The land beyond Dracula's castle : the painted monasteries of Bucovina 134
9 Transylvanian voices 148
10 Transylvanian tale : the Pied Piper's children go back to Hamelin 169
11 Last glimpses : Timisoara and Bucharest 181
Pt. 3 Bulgaria : tales from communist Byzantium
12 "The warmth of each other's bodies" 193
13 The price of friendship 214
14 The bad and the good 220
Pt. 4 Greece : western mistress, eastern bride
15 Farewell to Salonika 233
16 "Teach me, Zorba : teach me to dance!" 249
17 The secret history 260
Epilogue : the road to Adrianople 282
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 29, 2010

    Great read for the pedestrian or the scholar

    Kaplan has become one of my favorite writers for his engrossing travelogues/histories/socio-political commentaries. This is the book that rocketed him to fame when Bill Clinton was seen carrying a copy while mulling over the decision of whether to involve the United States in Kosovo. This is probably not Kaplan's best, but its still worth a read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2001

    Decent treatment of the Balkans in early-1990s

    Perhaps I made the mistake of reading Kaplan's 'Eastward to Tartary' before 'Balkan Ghosts'. I think 'Eastward' is a far superior book. Otherwise, 'Balkan Ghosts' provides a great perspective on the situation in the Balkans in the early-1990's.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2001

    An excellent introduction to Europe's forgotten little child

    Kaplan introduces us to the balkan peninsula with a good general overview of the region. But for a scholar or someone who is familiar with the region, the book wouldn't be much of a mindbender. However, some countries are very weel described (Romania and Greece), while others like Yugoslavia are barely mentioned. I still recommend this book for those who are just discovering this wonderful fraction of Europe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2001

    Great book for beginners

    I first read this book a few years ago and frequently read parts of it over. It was a refreshing, engrossing story that encouraged me to pursue more information regarding the histories of these countries. Let's face it, this is not a researched historical volume, it is a travelogue/journalism/socio-political writing. But it serves as an excellent primer for individuals who are dabbling in history. It was enjoyable, thought-provoking, and at least in my case encouraged me to read more about Balkan and Middle Eastern history. His writing was fair and non-condemning and in my opinion, balanced.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2001

    Biased Tour de Force

    'Balkan Ghosts' is an impressionistic tour de force of the Balkan. It doesn't come near Rebecca West's masterpiece 'Black Lamb and Gray Falcon' - but it is a travelogue in the same tradition. The author, who is acquainted with certain parts of the Balkan, crosses these tortured lands just prior to the Yugoslav wars of secession. His prognoses are accurate, his depiction of ancient ethnic enmities sweeping, his pessimism justified in hindsight. But too many important aspects are neglected or papered over. The responsibility of the West, the interplay of big powers, the ineptitude of international organizations, the forces of democracy and ethnic reconciliation in the region, religious co-existence and much more besides. Though one sided and biased, it is a must read - if only to understand what influenced the American administration of Bill Clinton in the formulation of its Balkan policies. Sam Vaknin, author of 'After the Rain - How the West Lost the East'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    A guide for a traveller

    The best thing about the book is that if someone wanted to go to the balkans this would be a good book to read. It would help gain a basic understanding of the problems in that the balkans have. The most disappointing thing is that the book is a bit hard to follow. One paragraph discusses history and the next one a local that the author ran into.

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    Posted December 28, 2009

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    Posted December 1, 2008

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted August 18, 2010

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