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While bicycling hundreds of miles through beautiful yet tragically depopulated regions, Dervla Murphy stayed with families whose lives had been devastated by murder, pillage and forcible uprooting Many conversations revealed griefs and confusions of ordinary people, some of whom have shown extraordinary courage and resilience during the decade of decay Throughout Serbia, a few months of NATO bombing had inflicted immense suffering on the whole population apart from Slobodan Milosevic s coterie yet remarkably traditional Balkan hospitality had survived Friends made in one place passed Dervla to friends elsewhere from town to town and city to city In the spring ofshe found the uneasy new states of Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina struggling to cope with their different problems Tiny Montenegro dramatically beautiful was politically and economically in chaos Kosovo, being ruled by the UN Nato OSCE triumvirate, was constitutionally in a state of suspended animation A detour into individualistic Albania led to Dervla being attacked and robbed three times Throughout her travels, Dervla tries to make sense of the confusing history and politics of this area The acceptance of Yugoslavia s disintegration by so many Western commentators exasperates her She contends that had the Great Powers behaved otherwise, Yugoslavia would have survived She sees at first hand the results of war crimes committed by various Balkan forces in Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, and she also forcibly indicts the Nato air war The Yugoslav essayist, Dubravka Ugresic, wrote in , Over the last five years, numerous books have been published about Yugoslavia In this heap of spoken and written words, few have mentioned the ordinary people This book aims to focus on these ordinary people


11 thoughts on “Through the Embers of Chaos: Balkan Journeys

  1. Justina Justina says:

    This is the first book by Dervla Murphy I have ever read I love this woman because she clearly says exactly what she thinks I don t always agree with her views, especially about communism, but I realize these are tourist views and it s interesting to hear them She tends only to see good in people which if a bit exasperating is also really refreshing


  2. Lee Lee says:

    I m a huge Dervla fan, but her later books which are politically slanted are not, for me, such an enjoyable read.Her very first book Full Tilt still remains my favourite, with perhaps Eight Feet in the Andes a close second All her books of journeys taken with her daughter are spell binding and very humbling.However this book is reaching out to a different reader and for any one interested in the Balkan Wars then Dervla reaches the parts other authors miss.


  3. ministry-evangelism.co Customer ministry-evangelism.co Customer says:

    Reading my way through the works of an Irish woman who is, in my opinion, one of the greatest travel writers ever Dervla Murphy really gets to the heart of the places she visits and connects with local people, bringing a most wonderful human element to her work.


  4. Brendan Keenan Brendan Keenan says:

    Will follow in her footsteps tyre tracks next month


  5. Dr. L. Offerhaus Dr. L. Offerhaus says:

    Courageous Enterprise but story quickly dated Travels difficult to follow because there is no map in the paperback edition Politically slightly biased as usual I will read it again after obtaining a suitable map.


  6. bub bub says:

    The book was purchased for a good friend who has read the other books by this author She loved the story and quality of the book.


  7. Kranky Kranky says:

    I read this following an introduction to the author via her book, Through Siberia Whilst she has some valid points to make about the world community s response to Kosovo and the Balkan crisis, and rightly makes them, on a purely personal level and I have some pretty similar political ideas as the author , this is not what I chose this book for and I found the points she made a little repetitive What I did enjoy was her representation of the views and lives of the people she met, and the journey she undertook This was a part of the book I really enjoyed, but I found myself skimming some of the obscure historical notes and authors repeated opinion, to find these.


  8. MacD MacD says:

    Anyone familiar with Dervla Murphy s books will know that she is a tough and courageous woman, and she needed to be to make this trip in the former Yugoslavia at the time she did Unfortunately the book contains far too much of her own repeated criticism of the international community and aid agencies Better editing would have lessened the diatribe, and resulted in a balanced book.


  9. Jackson Jackson says:

    I am working my way through all of Dervla Murphy s books, and of the ones that I have read so far, this one chaotically tackles the most chaotic subject, but to be fair to Ms Murphy, the situation in the Balkans is nothing short of massively confusing and she gets a medal for trying.She starts out with historical background on the region s political strife, but the book can t help but quickly dissolve into mayhem Although I don t always agree with her blistering critiques of NATO and the United States, I respect her for trying to make sense of a senseless situation and for putting her life on the line at times to sort things out As with her other trips, this one includes many tales of the hair raising positions she finds or puts herself in and won t disappoint in that respect In spite of the chaos of the subject, I did actually learn a vast amount about the Balkans that no news article or textbook could ever have taught me Ms Murphy has keen insight and a love of the common person that makes her often acerbic reflections easier to digest, and she does her homework thoroughly.


  10. Sycamore Trout Sycamore Trout says:

    Tiresome slog, partly interesting The author is so anti American she lacks credibility Miss Murphy accuses the US military in this book of setting up pedophilic fun rooms around its bases not only in the FY but worldwide Proof evidence nothing This trampy leech spews as much hatred as those she rails against Dreadfully paternalistic, she mooches off countless locals.


  11. skd skd says:

    Great