In This Review

Realm of the Black Mountains: A History of Montenegro
Realm of the Black Mountains: A History of Montenegro
By Elizabeth Roberts
Cornell University Press, 2007, 521 pp

If all countries, no matter how small, are entitled to have their histories told, Montenegro is fortunate to have Roberts as the teller. An outsider, she cares about the region -- cares enough to rise above myth and emotion to share a balanced, uncharged history that carries the reader back to antiquity. Montenegro, of course, is not a run-of-the-mill small country (650,000 people). When its citizens voted for independence from Serbia in 2006, the last remnant of the Yugoslav idea perished. The separation, however, did not stem from ethnic alienation; three-quarters of the country speaks the same language and practices the same religion as the Serbs, and its inhabitants often claimed to be "the best of Serbs." Roberts explores this outcome with a masterly sense of how much detail is needed and how the often impenetrable tangle of Balkan history can be made accessible and readable.