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Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War

Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War
Author: Julie Mertus
ISBN 13: 9780520218659
ISBN 10: 520218655
Edition: First Edition
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 1999-08-09
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
List Price: $31.95

"Julie Mertus has written the most informed, sophisticated, and convincing account of the struggle over the future of Kosovo. Anyone who wants to understand the ongoing Kosovo ordeal, or for that matter the whole class of ethnic conflicts, cannot do better than to read and study this fine book."—Richard Falk, Princeton University

"An important and original contribution to the literature about the break up of the former Yugoslavia. Julie Mertus reveals the competing narratives, the storytelling by which ethnic Serbs and Kosovo Albanians define themselves and their relationship to one another."—Eric Stover, Director, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley

"Julie Mertus leads us on a fascinating journey through history, myths, identities, and ideologies deep into the thickets of ethnicity and politics that have led to the bloody conflict between Albanians and Serbs. Yet the author leaves us not with despair over the fatality of ethnic conflict, but rather with an understanding of possible ways to resolve what seems unresolvable. This is the clearest and most affecting account of the Kosovo war."—Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago

Publishers Weekly

An essential document for understanding the crisis in Kosovo, this hard-hitting study blends political analysis, history and interviews that Ohio Northern University law professor Mertus conducted in Kosovo, Serbia proper and Macedonia between 1993 and 1998. Mertus, who completed this book just months before the NATO bombing campaign began, argues that the international community's years of inaction pushed the Kosovo Albanians away from a posture of passive resistance to Serb repression and toward militant demands for an independent state. She establishes a systematic pattern of human rights abuses perpetrated by Serb police and paramilitary forces against Kosovo Albanians since 1989, and she shows how Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic, employing state-controlled media, used Serbian claims to Kosovo (whose population is 90% ethnic Albanian) to build his power base while whipping up nationalist sentiment into fervid hatred of Kosovo Albanians. Western perceptions that Islamic fundamentalism must lie at the heart of the Kosovo Albanian movement for autonomy are off the mark, argues Mertus, because the Kosovo Albanians are both Muslim and Christian. She structures her revealing narrative around a number of polarizing events, including the 1981 Kosovo Albanian student demonstrations, which erupted into a populist revolt, and the alleged poisoning in 1990 of thousands of Kosovo Albanian schoolchildren (variously blamed on Serbs or Albanian separatists). Her study concludes with broad recommendations to humanitarian, relief and conflict-resolution groups working to rebuild shattered Kosovo. Photos. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.