In This Review

The Hour of Europe: Western Powers and the Breakup of Yugoslavia
The Hour of Europe: Western Powers and the Breakup of Yugoslavia
By Josip Glaurdic
Yale University Press, 2011, 432 pp

Glaurdic pulls no punches: that Yugoslavia blew up so violently is the fault, in the first instance, of feckless, myopic European powers “more concerned with outmaneuvering each other than with solving real issues on the ground.” Glaurdic argues that the European Community failed miserably in Yugoslavia just as it was transforming itself into the European Union, thereby doing immeasurable damage to the larger project of European integration. He also blames the administration of U.S. President George H. W. Bush for washing its hands of the crisis as it escalated from tension to widespread bloodletting in 1991–92. The Americans had initially embraced Slobodan Milosevic as a nasty but potentially Western-oriented economic reformer, largely out of an overarching dread of instability as communism collapsed across Eastern Europe. Glaurdic’s heavy emphasis on Serbian culpability for the tragedy that followed will not sit well with those who point their fingers in other directions. Nor will his exculpation of Germany’s policy of pushing for recognition of the defecting republics of Croatia and Slovenia, seen by many at the time as speeding Yugoslavia’s bloody demise. But Glaurdic’s critics will have to argue against a case built from a wider range of primary sources than anyone before him has used.