Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through History

Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through History

by Robert D. Kaplan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312424930
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 05/01/2005
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 118,278
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.29(h) x 1.03(d)

About the Author

Robert D. Kaplan, a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, is the author of more than a dozen 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 and Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History.

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Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through History 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
JusticeMakaveli More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
audramelissa on LibraryThing 20 days ago
Even though published 17 years ago, Kaplan¿s portrayal of his travels throughout the Balkan Peninsula is still a revelation to most Western readers. In this more-than-a-travel memoir or travelogue, Kaplan describes the not often understood histories and peoples of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and the countries of former Yugoslavia. Kaplan shows why Communism failed in the Balkans; it did nothing to end the historical tensions. This is not an easy book to read as the atrocities committed by all parties are disturbing but Kaplan¿s depictions are balanced and without generalities. (This is just one of the many books I am reading before traveling to Croatia.)
cestovatela on LibraryThing 20 days ago
Traveling through post-Cold War Greece and Yugoslavia, Kaplan documents contemporary life in the Balkans as well as the centuries of ethnic hatred that led to civil war. His study of recent Greek history is also revealing, especially for a younger reader like me - I'm not old enough to remember that Greece was once a hotbed for international smuggling and the drug trade. Kaplan gets bonus points for weaving his descriptions of the past and present together and writing long historical tracts in an entertaining way.
languagehat on LibraryThing 20 days ago
Well written, but tendentious and full of the worst kind of "ancient hatreds" nonsense. Docked a star for helping make the Balkans worse back in the '90s; politicians shouldn't be allowed to read Kaplan's books.
nikitasamuelle on LibraryThing 20 days ago
Robert D. Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts is the most haunting book I've ever read. The history of the Balkans is told through traveling narrative in such personal detail that each region, each ethnicity comes alive. Although I first read the book 10 years ago, passages still appear in my dreams today.
SCRH on LibraryThing 20 days ago
I wish I were an expert in the history of the Balkan Peninsula, but I am not. However, upon reading Kaplan's wonderful book, I believe I've been nicely schooled in the basics. As appropriately subtitled, the book is truly "A Journey Through History." The book (journey) has four main parts: 1) Yugoslavia, 2) Romania, 3) Romania, and 4) Greece. Nearly all the major cities are visited in the journey and along the way we are introduced to many characters who provide life to the sights, sounds, and smells that are encountered.A strength of the book is Kaplan's weaving quotations and/or examples from many different authors. Hence, in addition to Kaplan's own interpretation of history, we are treated to insights and sometimes emotions of other authors. The bibliography lists over 140 books and articles.For me, the book served a means of introducing me to people, places, politics, and religions, over many hundreds of years, for a part of the world that is historically important, complex, and poorly understood. I bookmarked the "Map of the Balkans" on page xvii of the prefatory pages and referred to it often as I journeyed through the remainder of the book. In addition to the fine bibliography, there are 19 photos and an excellent index.
benjaminorbach on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Didn't know much about the Balkans, but Kaplan drew me in.
dickcraig on LibraryThing 23 days ago
I liked this background to the Balkan War, but not as much as the book "The Fracture Zone" by Simon Winchester.
sabreader on LibraryThing 23 days ago
This is one of the worst books to read if you want to understand the former Yugoslavia. Yes, it is at times beautifully and compellingly written. But Kaplan's obsession with "history" (in fact a distorted and very narrow slice of history as written by an Englishwoman) blinds him to what was really going on. Instead we get a book of the crudest caricatures and myths about the Balkans. The only reason to read this book is to familiarize yourself with one of the worst books on the topic.
piefuchs on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Good read - but after you read Kapuscinski all other travelogues pale by comparison.
ORFisHome on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An excellent picture of the region. It did what a good book should, piqued my curiosity to learn more about the subject and the author.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A classic in integrated travel,history,and political writing. Kaplan wanders through southeastern evoking the ghosts of the Ottoman empire to explain current and possible future political and social conditions in eastern Europe.
heidilove on LibraryThing 5 months ago
this is a history of the balkan strife, but reads like one of the best travelogues ever. kaplan has a real gift in bringing this area to life, with its passions, its hurts and its haunts, while pitting it all in a modern context.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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'.