Kosovo, for all the recent stir, is one of those headline issues whose complex underpinnings escape most people. Judah, the Balkan correspondent for The Economist, makes it easy for the reader to fill in the blanks. In sharp, compact chapters, he travels from the founding myths, through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to the Milosevic era, the wars, the postwar UN stewardship, and, finally, the contentious passage to independence. One comes away with not only a clear comprehension of what happened and why in recent years but also a larger perspective on the long road to the anguished denouement. Judah makes a good case that the turmoil in and over Kosovo was not simply the final stage in the Yugoslav agony but an integral part of the stages that came before. He also takes a healthy stab at explaining why the fate of this small enclave matters in the larger scheme of things. As for who is to blame, he, for the most part, leaves that to the reader to decide.