The Balkan Wars: Myth, Reality, and the Eternal Conflict


297 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7737-3290-X
DDC 949.6




Reviewed by Danial Duda

Danial Duda is an information services librarian in the Queen Elizabeth
II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland.


André Gerolymatos holds the chair of Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser
University. In this well-written book, he argues that in order to better
understand the current civil war in Yugoslavia, you must understand its
history and how it has been manipulated by many different groups to
attain their own ends. These groups include the region’s different
ethnic peoples, the world powers of each generation, and the Orthodox
and Roman Catholics and Muslims.

The history of the region has been ingrained in the psyche of the
Balkan peoples. Gerolymatos shows how the assassination of Austrian
Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 can be linked to the Battle of Kosovo
fought between the Serbs and Ottomans in 1389. He then discusses the
fall of Constantinople, the Ottoman’s rule in the region, the role of
banditry in the politics of the area, the formation of independent
states by the major powers of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Balkan
Wars of 1912–13, and the conflict between the different religions over
the past six centuries. He ties all these themes to the current conflict
in South-East Europe to show how powerful history can be to each
generation in living out the “eternal conflict.”

The author does offer one solution that could end this perpetual war:
the economic well-being of people. Thus, if Europe and the United States
work harder at bringing the Balkans into the European Union and
improving the standard of living in the region, then there would be no
need for territorial warfare. Except for some editorial glitches at the
beginning of the book, The Balkan Wars is a well-written account that
can be used to better understand both the situation in South-East Europe
and the damaging effects of history when it is manipulated to achieve
goals of self-interest.


Gerolymatos, André., “The Balkan Wars: Myth, Reality, and the Eternal Conflict,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,