For Croats I was a Serb and a unitarian from the beginning.  To Serbs, a Frankist [radical Croatian nationalist] and Ustaša; to  Ustaše a dangerous Marxist and communist; to Marxists a salon communist; to clergy and believers, the antichrist who should be nailed to a shameful pillar.  For the bourgeoisie after the war I am …

  • March 15, 2021
  • Yugoslavia
  • Comments Off on The Contrary Communist

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Jelena of Serbia, described as “plain”, but also quiet and amiable by the nanny of the Romanov children whose friendship she shared, was not what the rest of Europe’s nobility pictured when told of someone demanding the release of the Tsar and his family.  And yet, Jelena was the only member of the Royal Family …

  • March 12, 2021
  • Comments Off on The Story of a Balkan Princess

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When the pre-eminent Russian poet Alexander Pushkin died on 10 February 1837, it was in a tragic echo of an incident of the life of his great-grandfather, Avram Petrovich Gannibal (also written as Hannibal). Pushkin was killed by his brother-in-law in a duel over Pushkin’s wife Natalya, a parallel to the first marriage of Gannibal, …

  • February 10, 2021
  • Interesting
  • Comments Off on I Was Not Born to Amuse the Tsars

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When King Cetshwayo died on 8 February 1884, the circumstances were suspicious.  Officially his death was due to a heart attack, but not even the British  representatives who observed his autopsy could agree on whether or not the last independent king of the Zulu had been poisoned. Cetshwayo’s life was remarkable in many ways.  His …

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As is emblematic of Balkan countries, when the Greek Prime Minister and head of the Fourth of August Regime, Ioannis Metaxas, died of septicemia from a throat abscess on 29 January 1940 there were whispers of a dark conspiracy of assassination.   The whispers seemed to converge on the arrival of a British medic who …

  • January 29, 2021
  • Comments Off on The Man Who Said No

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In February 1979, Joe Biden – the future American president – attended the funeral of Edvard Kardelj in Yugoslavia.  Kardelj, although scarcely remembered outside the former Yugoslavia, was a figure of enormous importance in his time.  An early adopter of communism (at age 16 in 1926), he spent time in a Kingdom of Jugoslavia jail …

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The events of this novel draw on the infinite well of human memory, whose treasures may be brought to the surface in any period, including our own.  In view of this, any resemblance between the characters and circumstances of this tale and real people and events is inevitable. –Ismail Kadare Published first in 2003 (in …

  • January 22, 2021
  • Reading , Review
  • Comments Off on Book Review: The Successor

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It was pretty much a requirement that politicians of a certain age in Yugoslavia have served as Partizans during World War II, and Džemal Bijedić was no exception to that rule.   Raised by Muslim parents in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, by 1939 Bijedić had joined the League of Communists.  He was arrested at least four …

  • January 18, 2021
  • History
  • Comments Off on A Suspicious Crash

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