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Croatia: A Nation Forged in War; Second Edition [Paperback]

Marcus Tanner
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 10 2001 Yale Nota Bene
In this book an eyewitness to the breakup of Yugoslavia provides the first full and impartial account of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Croatia from its medieval origins to today's tentative peace. Marcus Tanner describes the turbulence and drama of Croatia's past and - drawing on his own experience and interviews with many of the leading figures in Croatia's conflict - explains its violent history since Tito's death in 1980. This second edition updates the account and follows Croatia's progress to democracy since the death of President Franjo Tudjman.

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Left in tatters after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, the new country of Croatia has served as a troubled crossroads between East and West since the Dark Ages. Veteran journalist Marcus Tanner set out to write the recent history of this nation, but found it impossible to cover the 1990s without referring to World War II, and impossible to write about that period without going back even further. So he begins his account in the 7th century, covers Croatian history in a brief but thorough manner, and spends the final third of his book describing how Croatia regained its sovereignty in 1992. A glut of books on the Balkan War give short shrift to this intriguing story. Tanner corrects this problem with a fine and unique contribution. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

When Croatia declared itself an independent state in October 1991, the remnant of Yugoslavia reacted by invading and shelling towns such as Dubrovnik. Tanner was a correspondent in the Balkans from 1988 to 1993 for the London Independent and witnessed these events firsthand. His book covers the full recorded history of Croatia since the first Slav settlers in the seventh century A.D., but the period of World War II and after makes up half the work. No supporter of the Croats, Tanner presents incidents when they have behaved less than ideally. The narrative style is very sparse and condensed, presenting much detail in each chapter. A good survey of a region still much in the news, this work provides needed background for the current events in the region. For academic and larger public libraries.?Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..... Dec 6 2000
Format:Hardcover
The book was informative, but it did not go into great detail. The period of 1918-41 was glazed over in a few pages, and the extent of Serbian tyrrany and crimes were not fully covered. The massacre of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators on Ban Jelacic Square (where democratic Croatian protesters were gunned down by the Serbian genedarmerie occupation police) on December 5, 1918, was not mentioned, nor the Brusane massacre, nor the Sinj massacre; nor the extent of Serbian domination and hedgemony in the police and military, as well as the brutal repression of ethnic, civil, human, and national rights. One cannot just breeze over the banning of all free speech, press, assmebly, and culture; nor the Serbian police force's beating, jailing, and liquidation of the democratic opposition. Unfortunately, Lampe, Judah, Tanner, and many others do; by doing so, they commit the fallacy of denying the antecedent. Mr. Diljas accuses Tanner of using "predominately Croatian and pro-Croatian sources;" well, can Mr. Diljas tell us who those sources are? If that downplays the legitimacy of the book, how would Mr. Diljas explain the legitimacy of his books (being that he is a Serb and a Communist) and books written by Serbs and Communists over this past century. Thus, it would be that Mr. Diljas and most books written about Croatia and the ex-Yugoslavia (and all of the former Republics) were not and are not free of Serbian nationalistic and Communist idealistic romanticism, and should be read with Critical reserve.
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3.0 out of 5 stars ".....the wood for the trees!" March 19 1999
Format:Paperback
Mr Tanner sets out to dissolve a nation's thousand year history and crystallize it into a three hundred page book.The fact that he attempts to do this by cramming in as much detail as he can possibly muster results in a cursive, factual catch-all leaving little room for analysis or explanation.
Having said this, Mr Tanner is to be praised for the undoubted erudition of his research. Detail piles upon detail, fact upon fact. The reader soon realises that here is history of the "this happened,followed by this, resulting in this" genre. The danger in presenting us with this wealth of historical minutae is that it too frequently makes for laborious consumption and all too often results in literary indigestion. This is particularly so when Mr Tanner negotiates the post-medieval, pre-19th Century period of Austro-Hungarian imperialism. Disappointingly, he fails to enlighten the reader as to any relevance that this period may have to the fierce nationalism so much in evidence today.
We are all aware of the cataclysmic events of recent Balkan history. Such hatred, brutality and blind ethnic partisanship is crying out for sound, unbiased analysis. Unfortunately, Mr Tanner does not provide us with this analysis though he does at least try to present his facts in an objective, unbiased manner. For instance, he even-handedly devotes one page to the horrors perpetrated by the Croatian Ustashe at Jasenovac and a further page to the slaughter of tens of thousands of Croats by the (largely Serbian) partisans at Bleiberg.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Overview of Croatia's History Feb. 26 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
By his own account, British journalist Marcus Tanner did not set out to write a history of Croatia from the seventh century. He intended to write an account of the recent war with the Serbs. However he found he could not do so without locating the seeds of the conflict in the 1940s, which are rooted in the politics of the 1920s, which were engendered by the nationalism of the 1840s, and so on. What he ultimately produced is a useful 300-page overview of Croatian history. And he still managed to write about the recent war, devoting 80 pages to events since 1990.
The common view that Tanner is not sufficiently critical of unsavory elements in Croatia's past is justified. His discussion of the horrors of the World War II-era Jasenovac concentration camp is cursory; he comments on the main political football - the debate about the numbers and identities of the victims - but fails to describe the political context surrounding the camp or the lives of the people within it. His praise for Tudjman as a noble, if overzealous, nationalist who successfully steered his country to the fruition of the 'thousand-year-dream' is insufficiently honest about his neo-fascist and sometimes nonsensical policies. Today Tudjman's HDZ party is a quasi-democratic regime rooted in corruption and repression. The war is over, the Croats won. Now is the time for nurturing democratic institutions.
From a journalist with such a tactile understanding of the region, "Croatia" includes few of the primary source interviews and observations that were so interesting and enlightening in other recent books about the Balkans by British journalists (Misha Glenny, Laura Silber). Instead Tanner weaves together secondary sources and analyses by other experts.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Seems Good, But Hard To Tell!
My fiancee and I were both really eager to read this book, we'd heard good things about it and are planning a trip to Croatia. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2003 by A. Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Simple
Tanner is neither a Croatian nor an academic, and this limits the book in both understanding and the depth of its research. And yet, the book is successful all the same. Read more
Published on June 26 2002 by Brian Bibbles
2.0 out of 5 stars Amateur history
Tanner covered wartime events in Croatia during the early 1990s as a newspaper correspondent, and based on this experience he decided to take on the ambitious project of writing a... Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2000 by Edward Bosnar
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and comprehensive
As the people of a young country, U.S. citizens do not typically relate to the deep ties many foreign cultures have to their homeland. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2000 by LLTowery
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book in English on the history of Croatia
This thoughtful and well written book presents Croatian history without the usual Serbian propaganda. Read more
Published on April 27 1999 by Zidar
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the rare books in English on Croatian history
A book on Croatian history is most overdue. This is one of the rare books on Croatian history written in English and therefore a must read. Read more
Published on April 9 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars A piece of croatian propaganda
The author has either neglected to research the history of the Serbs and Croats or has written this book with the goal of spreading croatian propaganda. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Overview of Croatia's History
By his own account, British journalist Marcus Tanner did not set out to write a history of Croatia from the seventh century. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 1999 by Richard R
2.0 out of 5 stars Croatian history deserves better
A deeply disappointing book. It fails to answer the central questions of Croatian history: who are the Croats and how has their national identity developed over the years? Read more
Published on Sept. 20 1998
2.0 out of 5 stars Croatian history deserves better
A deeply disappointing book. It fails to answer the central questions of Croatian history: who are the Croats and how has their national identity developed over the years? Read more
Published on Sept. 20 1998
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