"Bosnia: A Short History" By Noel Malcolm.

980 words - 4 pages

Book Review: 'Bosnia: A Short History'At a glance Noel Malcolm's Bosnia: A Short History looks to provide a brief account of Bosnia in build up to the contemporary conflict between the Serbs and the Croats in the former Yugoslavia. Clearly, Malcolm's intent is to accommodate for those who are unfamiliar with this area of history or those that have witnessed the said conflict through the media over the past decade. As well as to "dispel some of the clouds of misunderstanding... ...and sheer ignorance" amongst those that are familiar with the region. In a book of only 252 pages which covers a period spanning nearly 1000 years Malcolm has chosen an arduous task.Malcolm's argument promotes that contemporary individuals such as the Serb President Milosevic are much to blame for the bloody conflict. In an attempt to prove the "myth" that it was in-fact solely a product of long standing differences within Bosnia itself, wrong. Using an arsenal of solid historical fact gained from his, obviously extensive research. As well as sound logical reasoning in most places. He makes his case surprisingly well for such a concise book.This profile of Bosnia begins during the Roman period. Detailing how the Slavs that occupied the region during this time came to be. Although rather bland to read, this section makes a necessary contribution to Malcolm's argument. In that it destroys the common misconceptions among contemporary politicians and some media commentators that there has always been a mix of Serbs and Croats in Bosnia. The first chapter explicitly points out that Serb and Croat national identity did not even begin to be constructed in Bosnia until roughly 300 years ago.During the recent conflict many Serb and Croat historians formed religious arguments to justify the removal of the appropriate race from the Bosnian region. Many of these claims are rooted in the Social and Religious make up in the region during the medieval period. Malcolm approaches this very important point of controversy well by examining a good cross section of different theories. He concludes that most likely the Bosnian church included both Orthodox and Catholics. Suggesting the mentioned historians claims to the region through the church to be misplaced. Thus furthering his argument. But, Malcolm seems to lack solid evidence for this. One can't help but notice the frequent use of phrases such as "it is possible" or "though we have no direct evidence" in these chapters. It is occasionally not completely clear how Malcolm has reached his conclusions. This can perhaps be forgiven. Sources regarding this period are scarce, not least because of the destruction of the Sarajevo library as a result of heavy shelling during the conflict. However, it remains difficult to be completely convinced of the arguments in this section under such circumstances.As Malcolm states the Islamicization of Bosnia under Ottoman rule is perhaps the most important factor in understanding the development of these...

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