Lonely Planet After Yugoslavia

Zoe Schramm-Evans, Author, Zoe Bran, Author
Zoe Schramm-Evans, Author, Zoe Bran, Author Lonely Planet $12.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-86450-030-1
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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The social landscape of postwar Yugoslavia is complicated terrain for any travel writer, but this Welsh novelist (Some Increase of Brightness), who has also written books on Vietnam and Burma, approaches it as straightforwardly as her title suggests. Br n's goal is to retrace her footsteps to see how the country has changed since she first saw it as a young backpacker in 1978. Despite knowing that political dissolution and civil war have intervened, she is not entirely prepared for the extent to which the old Yugoslavia has disappeared. Even the locals she encounters regard their home as changed beyond recognition. Br n provides a selective portrait, including only Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, but the reader is not left wanting. Slovenia, on the cusp of economic prosperity and acceptance into the European Union, bubbles with optimism--a winner in the traumatic breakup of the nation. Croatia struggles to regain its self-assurance while battling with the ghosts of suppressed guilt. Bosnia, the epicenter of the most horrific ethnic cleansing, presents a tragic recent history, and here the author ventures into the grimmest reminders of brutality, vengeance and the unsightly face of hatred. In contrast, as Br n illustrates richly, the post-Yugoslav lands are marked with unrivaled beauty; unspoiled coastlines, natural forests and elegant antiquities are rampant along her journey. It is Br n's honesty about the juxtaposition between these two aspects of what used to be Yugoslavia that separates this book from its peers. (Feb.)
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