Croatia: A Nation Forged in War

Marcus Tanner, Author
Marcus Tanner, Author Yale University Press $60 (368p) ISBN 978-0-300-06933-4
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-300-07668-4
Open Ebook - 349 pages - 978-1-281-73001-5
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-0-300-16394-0
Hardcover - 367 pages - 978-0-585-38898-4
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Rather than just focusing on the years since the break up of Yugoslavia, or the death of Tito, Tanner, correspondent for London's Independent has reached further back in history. In 1519, Pope Leo X described Croatia as the Antemurale Christianitatis, the ""Ramparts of Christendom"" and a little later, it was saddled by the Hapsburgs with a physical manifestation of that position, the Krajina, a border of castles manned primarily by Serbs. This swathe of militant Serbs would define much of the country's history, this, and it's long experience of foreign domination. There was constant tension with Hungary which claimed suzerainty over Croatia, and Tanner describes in great detail the unsuccessful attempts to Hungarianize Croatia. The South Slav movement of the late 19th century finally resulted in 1918 when Croatia became part of the South Slav Federation; however, by the mid-30s, old animosities between Serbs and Croats resurfaced. A few days after Germany declared war on Yugoslavia, the fascist Croatian nationalists, the Ustashe, began their brutal rule under the Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska (Independent State of Croatia or NDH). During the NDH, the Serbs suffered huge losses--though exactly how many died, is indeterminable with claims ranging from 50,000 to 600,000. Still when Tito (himself half-Slovene, half-Croatian) and his Partisans prevailed at the end of the war, they retaliated, killing at least 30,000 NDH soldiers. The final impression of this very accessible and consistently engrossing history is not optimistic. The brief period of Yugoslavian unity would seem to be an authoritarian anomaly, but for now, at least, division seems mandated by centuries of hatred. (Apr.)
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