Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Kosovo: A Brief History" by Noel Malcolm

Great myth-debunking job!
I believe not much has been written in the world to debunk the myths that have been created over centuries and millenia, the fact which encourages many a few nations to live in the world of self-created oblivion, and, inexorably, glorious past. This oftentimes aids self-validation, forward-leaning nation-building and patriotism however, in one too many cases this attitude to history has spawned radical nationalism and caused civil unrest and armed conflict. Kosovo is an example of the latter. Kosovo watchers know that arguments have been made by either side of this conflict to justify the 'truths that are self-evident'. The issue here is that an ordinary person may not be versed in the Balkan history to a point where he/she can cull out the husk from the kernel, which is where this book comes in. I appreciate the effort of the author at doing a tremendous research job and making coherent and, in my opinion, for the most part, solid arguments. Conclusions made by the author are heavy-handed and unequivocal where they need to be, which is the style of narration I personally appreciate and which is a testament to the author's confidence in the quality of his research. On the downside of this work, I felt that some of the arguments got bogged down in detail (which is indispensible for history writing) and which seemed to have diluted and led astray some of the author's arguments. The details provided -- although do not add value to the arguments set forth -- doubtless can be used for other purposes than those immediately applicable to the aforementioned arguments. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the nature of the Kosovo issue and those who study -- from athropological or political science viewpoints -- the development of historical and political myth (otherwise known as propaganda)and its effects on the political and societal climates of a particular state or region.

No comments: