Reviews

Brief Mentions

Under ordinary circumstances an American might safely ignore the tragic history of the Serbs, but as the conflict in the Balkans threatens, increasingly, to set off an international war, access to sound information becomes crucial. Alex Dragnich's many careful studies of the region should be near the top of anyone's list. His Serbs and Croats: The Struggle in Yugoslavia is the clearest exposition of the Yugoslav idea and its consequences, and this little volume (and its predecessor in this series, The Saga of Kosovo, 1984) provides a series of clear snapshots of who the Serbs are and why they cling so insistently to their traditions. This volume's contributors concentrate on several key periods of Serbian history: the Middle Ages, in which the Serbs crafted a brilliant Slavic variant on Byzantine civilization; the centuries after Kosovo and the Turkish conquest; the development of Serbian political traditions of self-rule and constitutional democracy; and the terrible ordeals of two world wars in which the Serbs lost as large a part of their population as any nation has lost in modern times. Every people has a story to tell, and some small nations, like the Irish, while they have failed at nation-building, have excelled in telling their stories. Like the Irish, the Serbs are a nation of singers and storytellers, and the essays collected in this volume go a long way toward explaining both their national pride and the cultural...

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