Hupchick serves up an accessible and balanced history of the Balkans from the rise of the Bulgar state in the seventh century to the fall of communism. To take the reader effortlessly through 1,400 years of history in a region where the Hellenic, Slav, and Ottoman worlds met, mingled, and clashed, where numerous empires have risen and fallen, is no mean feat. It is the period since the birth of the nation-state and death of the Ottoman empire, dominated by two world
wars and two "isms," that makes the author agnostic about the region's future. Often in but not of Europe, these states may transcend the past's "divisive, ruinous nationalisms" and break free of the authoritarianism rooted in the "Orthodox-Byzantine and Ottoman past." But he is not sure.