A Nation Forged in War

Marcus Tanner

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From the ashes of former Yugoslavia an independent Croatian state has arisen, the fulfillment, in the words of President Franjo Tudjman, of the Croats' "thousand-year-old dream of independence." Yet few countries in Europe have been born amid such bitter controversy and bloodshed: the savage war between pro-independence forces and the Yugoslav army left about one-third of the country in ruins and resulted in the flight of a quarter of a million of the country's Serbian minority.

In this book an eyewitness to the breakup of Yugoslavia provides the first full account of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Croatia from its medieval origins to today's tentative peace. Marcus Tanner describes the creation of the first Croatian state; its absorption into feudal Hungary in the Middle Ages; the catastrophic experience of the Ottoman invasion; the absorption of the diminished country into Habsburg Austria; the evolution of modern Croatian nationalism after the French Revolution; and the circumstances that propelled Croatia into the arms of Nazi Germany and the brutal, home-grown "Ustashe" movement in the Second World War. Finally, drawing on first-hand knowledge of many of the leading figures in the conflict, Tanner explains the failure of Tito's Communists to solve Yugoslavia's tortured national problem by creating a federal state, and the violent implosion after his death.

Croatia's unique position on the crossroads of Europe—between Eastern and Western Christendom, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans and between the old Habsburg and Ottoman empires—has been both a curse and a blessing, inviting the attention of larger and more powerful neighbors. The turbulence and drama of Croatia's past are vigorously portrayed in this powerful history.

Marcus Tanner was Balkan correspondent of the London Independent from 1988 to 1994. He is the author of Ticket to Latvia.

"Two fine and well-written works. . . . The authors, British journalists who covered the Yugoslav wars, are well worth reading. Their respective accounts give insights into the historical baggage the Yugoslav ethnic groups brought to their latest convulsions."—Dusko Doder, Boston Globe

"Tanner's book is a balanced, meticulously documented, and dispassionate account of Croatia's past and present. . . . By far, the best book on the history of Croatia ever published. Excellent and extensive index. Strongly recommended."—Choice

"[Tanner and Judah] bring to bear wide knowledge of Yugoslavia and shared experience of Europe's worst war since 1945. Each gives a good historical survey and an account of the war's causes."—Economist 

"Lucid and accessible."—Melanie McDonagh, Evening Standard

"Croatia has often but not always been at war. After the Habsburgs historic victory over the Turks in the 1690s, northern Croatia enjoyed the benefits of peace and orderly government with few interruptions until the First World War. The 20th century has undone those gains. The last three generations have known warfare on a scale not seen since the Middle Ages. After the carnage of the First World War, followed the disastrous 'Independent State of Croatia' in 1941, a poisoned chalice, tainted with a Fascist ideology and an alliance with Hitler's Germany. The result was to plunge Croatia into civil war between left-wing Partisans and the Fascist Ustashe. And, after emerging into independent statehood once again in the 1990s, the Croats have continued to be dogged by the legacy of the past. The fighting of the 1940s and the mass killings of Croatia's Serb community came back to haunt the country 50 years on."—From the preface

"In addition to being a work of real quality . . . [it] fills an important gap. . . . A mix of on-the-spot reportage, history and analysis, well-researched and proof-read and conveying a sense both of immediacy and of a wider perspective. . . . Tanner has written a comprehensive, informative, readable and balanced account that provides a historical perspective but is, sensibly, tilted towards the twentieth century."—Christopher Cviic, International Affairs

"[This book] is well paced, reasonably succinct and very readable; [it] very properly and interestingly uses broad sweeps of history to help explain recent developments and present circumstances."—George Bull, International Minds
“Tanner’s work is a colourful mosaic of the nation’s history. Well structured and highly readable, the text is lent an intensity and vigour by the author’s first-hand experience of the Balkans in general, and the break-up of Yugoslavia in particular. His insights into the culture and lives of the area’s people are both profound and balanced, and are supported by much expert opinion. In light of the country’s recent experiences, this book is a timely and important work of reference.”—Marcus Keane, Irish Times

"A good survey of a region still much in the news."—Marcia L. Sprules, Library Journal

"Croatia: A Nation Forged in War is a much-needed introduction to this southern Slavic country, whose past and present defy simple categorization. . . . fascinating and well-documented. . . . Written with vigor, full of absorbing stories and important insights, [the book] deserves to be read."—Aleska Djilas, New York Times Book Review

"Very accessible and consistently engrossing history."—Publishers Weekly

"Both books combine incisive and original scholarship, particularly about the development of the nationalist mentality in Serbia and Croatia, with the authority that comes from the authors distinguishing themselves in the killing fields of the former Yugoslavia from the first outbreaks of fighting in 1991. . . . The insights Tanner and Judah bring to their subjects in their brave and compelling books will remain valid for many years to come."—David Rieff, The Toronto Globe & Mail

"Readable and stimulating. . . . Long-overdue corrective to the onesidedly negative view long entertained about Croatia by the educated British public."—Times Higher Education Supplement

ISBN: 9780300076684
Publication Date: August 11, 1998
350 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
32 b/w illus.
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