The Balkans in World History (New Oxford World History)

In the historical and literary imagination, the Balkans loom large as a somewhat frightening and ill-defined space, often seen negatively as a region of small and spiteful peoples, racked by racial and ethnic hatred, always ready to burst into violent conflict. The Balkans in World History re-defines this space in positive terms, taking as a starting point the cultural, historical, and social threads that allow us to see this region as a coherent if complex whole. Eminent historian Andrew Wachtel here depicts the Balkans as that borderland geographical space in which four of the world's greatest civilizations have overlapped in a sustained and meaningful way to produce a complex, dynamic, sometimes combustible, multi-layered local civilization. It is the space in which the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, of Byzantium, of Ottoman Turkey, and of Roman Catholic Europe met, clashed and sometimes combined. The history of the Balkans is thus a history of creative borrowing by local people of the various civilizations that have nominally conquered the region. Encompassing Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey, the Balkans have absorbed many voices and traditions, resulting in one of the most complex and interesting regions on earth.

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By Mary (Provo, UT) · ★★★★☆ · May 12, 2010
Take away: Balkans were, for thousands of years, bastions of peaceful tolerance, not only among "Serbs" "Croats" and "Bosnians"but also with significant Turkish and Spanish Jewish populations all living in relative harmony.

Then the 20th century happened.

Nationalism imported through intellectual... ...more
By Cathryn (Lawrence, MA) · ★★★☆☆ · April 06, 2013
Despite being short, this book is slow read because of the condensed history of multiple regions and three religions over mor than a thousand years. But bear with it, because it will disabuse you of simplified misconceptions you may have formed from news reports and books with a more short view o... ...more
By Christopher (The United States) · January 18, 2014
It has a sort of pro-EU "prediction" for the Balkans that history has not substantiated. ...more
By Greg (Atlanta, GA) · ★★★☆☆ · March 30, 2013
Good solid history -- nothing really new here if you're familiar with the region, but well-presented and thoughtful. It's really short so it breezes by a lot rather quickly. ...more