Award-winning journalist and author Simon Winchester takes readers on a personal tour of the Balkans. Combining history and interviews with the people who live there, Winchester offers a fascinating glimpse into the complex issues at work in this chaotic region. Unrest in the Balkans has gone on for centuries. A seasoned reporter, Winchester visited the region twenty years ago. When Kosovo reached crisis level in 1997, Winchester thought a return visit to the beleaguered area would help to make sense out of the awful violence. He decided to use Vienna and Istanbul, two great cities whose rivalries helped create the dynamics at work today, as the beginning and end points of his trip. Not specifically a book about war, it is more a portrait of a place and its people in turmoil. Simon Winchester offers an insightful look at a little understood conflict. Steven Crossley’s masterful narration will make listeners feel as if they have entered the combat zone.
©1999 Simon Winchester (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC
The narration was exceptionally good.
The writing was good but it conveyed the Eurocentric and racist instincts of the author. There is plenty of poverty and squalor in Europe; one needs to look around without biases.
There was no mention of Macedonia or Herzegovina. Aren't they Balkan states as well?
This book contains all the elements of his later works. Descriptive, memorable characters and an understanding of the geological forces that shape a landscape. By necessity this was written in the first person, so it becomes a kind of painful travelogue as the author describes horrific acts of barbarism and hatred that was occurring in the Balkans at that time. And, as with all his books, he is able to find and relate great beauty, humor and humanity amidst the tragedy. One can even understand his bewilderment over the fact that all of this was occurring in Europe at the end of the twentieth century while not necessarily sharing in the sentiment. While there are many other Simon Winchester books that I would recommend over this, for those of us who are deep fans of his writing, this is a good one to go back to. It gives one a greater sense of the author.
Probably not as I don't typically listen to books like this again, but it was very interesting and informative.
Was looking for an audio book that gave me a framework of the issues in the Balkans and this does so within the structure of an interesting and entertaining story so wasn't as dry as a history text.
My favorite was actually how he sprinkled in the historical background within the scenes, so you learned while you were entertained.
All of the unnecessary violence was upsetting but informative.
Was just really pleasantly surprised with this book. Figured I'd pick up on some history through an adventure travel type of story but really got both in a great way. Really happy with this book.
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