cover of book

Ethnic Nationalism: The Tragic Death of Yugoslavia
by Bogdan Denitch
University of Minnesota Press, 1996
Paper: 978-0-8166-2947-3
Library of Congress Classification DR1307.D46 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 949.703


If your neighbor cannot sleep, you will not be allowed to either: The old adage assumes an overtone of dread as the stirring, wary world witnesses the destruction of Yugoslavia. If the leaders of Serbia and Croatia can get away with tearing apart Bosnia-Herzegovina, a sovereign member of the United Nations, what is to stop military elites in other former Soviet and East European states from proposing similar solutions to their own national grievances and aspirations? And who is to say such attention would be confined to that area of the globe?

The world may well be uneasy, as Bogdan Denitch makes clear in this brilliant book about the causes and possible ramifications of the death of Yugoslavia. Ethnic Nationalism provides a cogent, comprehensive historical analysis of Yugoslavia's demise, one that clearly identifies events and trends that urgently demand the world's attention.

The role of timing in the sequence of events; the consequences of an unworkable constitutional situation; the responsibility of the West; and, above all, the self-transformation of Communist regimes that presaged undemocratic outcomes- Denitch duly considers each of these factors as he gives a detailed description of Yugoslavia's descent into interethnic wars. His discussion of the possible fate of postcommunist states is especially pertinent, and leads to a skillful account of the sources and dangers of nationalistic and ethnic extremism on what threatens to become a global scale. In this analysis, nationalism and populism can be seen as revolts against a new world system where abstract multinational financial and political institutions thwart citizens' attempts at democratic participation.

Active in Yugoslav political and intellectual life for almost thirty years, Denitch is able to imbue the developments he describes with a particular, human immediacy. His personal experiences with the emergence of nationalism and fractious ethnic politics and warfare, movingly recounted here, stand as compelling testimony to the historical drama so thoroughly and incisively detailed in this remarkable book.

Nearby on shelf for History of Balkan Peninsula / Yugoslavia / History: