The Balkans: From Constantinople to Communism by Dennis P. Hupchick

By Dennis P. Hupchick

The tragedies in Bosnia and Kosovo are frequently defined away because the unchangeable legacy of "centuries-old hatreds." during this richly certain, expertly balanced chronicle of the Balkans throughout 15 centuries, Dennis Hupchick units a sophisticated list instantly. equipped round the 3 nice civilizations of the region—Western ecu, Orthodox Christian, and Muslim—this is a much-needed inclusive advisor to the political, social, cultural, and non secular threads of Balkan history—with a transparent, convincing account of the explanations for nationalist violence and terror.

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The Eastern Empire served as the terminus for numerous trade routes stretching eastward to India and China and southward into East Africa, and cross-border trade directly tapped into the riches of Persia, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The western provinces not only were dependent on the eastern ones for access to the fruits of long distance trade but had as cross-border trading partners only primitive Germanic, Celtic, and Berber tribal societies, which faced even harsher environmental conditions than their own.

The difference in Romanian perceptions between these northern Jews, many of whom arrived as land managers for wealthy Romanian absentee landlords, and the southern Jews, who were considered traditionally benevolent trading partners, sparked a radical reaction on the part of the Romanian peasantry, who were then suffering under the region’s most inequitable land distribution system. Of all the peoples of the Balkans, only the Romanians and the Croats (who historically were tied to 12 THE BALKA NS Catholic Central-Eastern Europe) spawned native neofascist, anti-Semitic movements before World War II and conducted Nazi-style anti-Semitic policies during that conflict.

In a rugged land where natural resources often were limited, group cohesiveness was crucial for survival. Competitive conditions bred ethnic cultures frequently typified by extremes in expression—communal generosity and stubborn territoriality; overt hospitality and brutal atrocity; bouts of fun-loving enjoyment and irrational violence. All Balkan peoples traditionally have exhibited one common characteristic: A sense of passionate, tenacious group pride. 3 million people (not including the inhabitants of European Turkey and the millions who reside in Istanbul) essentially is comprised of three primary groupings: Historically ancient peoples, South Slavs, and Turks.

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