Elusive Compromise: A History of Interwar Yugoslavia

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Elusive Compromise: A History of Interwar Yugoslavia

By Dejan Djokic
Columbia University Press, 2007
250 pp. $79.50
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Logical as the idea of a unified South Slav state seemed in the late nineteenth century, since such a state failed twice in the next century, catastrophically the second time, it is now easy to assume that the hope was flawed from the beginning and that the problem is in Serbian-Croatian relations. Key scholars have posited that failure was in the DNA of the first Yugoslavia -- born of the First World War, destroyed by the Second -- but Djoki? argues that interwar Yugoslavia was not doomed by conflicting Croatian and Serbian national ideologies. Failure came rather from the inability of politicians to compromise over the centralization of state power. Hence, the state failed because of political decisions taken or not taken in the flush of events, not because of primordial forces. Djoki? does not ultimately prove the counterfactual that the Yugoslav idea could have been saved, but he gives it plausibility.