Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide" by Branimir Anzulovic [1]

I am reading Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide by Branimir Anzulovic. The inside jacket states:

"In the 1990s Serbs brought death and destruction to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, and international condemnation on themselves. Heavenly Serbia searches for the causes behind the brutal and futile drive for a Greater Serbia. How did the Serbs rationalize, and rally support for, their genocidal activity?"

As you would guess from the title of the book, Anzulovic explains the violent expansionism of 1990s Serbs as an expression of their peculiar national mythology. Most readers of this blog will most likely already be familiar with the Kosovo myth, of Prince Lazar choosing the heavenly kingdom, the murder of Sultan Murat by Milos Obilic, and so on; as well as the tradition of oral poetry, The Mountain Wreath by Prince Njegos (and its genocidal theme), the the unique melding of nation, church, and state in the Orthodox world ; and so on. Therefore, I will not review this book on a page-by-page or at least section-by-section (within chapters) as I often do.

However, this excellent book does examine some aspects of Serbian and south Slavic culture and history which don't often receive attention in popular Western books on the subject, or at least the author manages to achieve a fresh and novel insight into what might at first seem to be well-trod ground.

Therefore, I intend to touch on and discuss at least a portion of what is novel and uniquely insightful in Anzulovic's book. I will begin doing so in my next post.


Daniel (Srebrenica Genocide Blog) said...

It would be more appropriate to say that Serbian nationalism - in combination with radical Serbian mythology - brought death and destruction... etc... instead of saying "Serbs." Maybe I am wrong, but again, it depends on which context historians place their data.

Srebrenica Genocide said...

I just finished reading the book: "Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide" by Branimir Anzulovic.

This is a trully remarkable piece of study. I always wondered how he came up with the title for his book. And here is what he said:

CNN: What was your motive to write a book on Serbia but not on Croatia -- and what is the Kosovo myth?

Branimir Anzulovic: Let me start with the Kosovo myth. Essentially it says that Serbs lost the battle because they opted for the heavenly, rather than earthly kingdom. Many Serbs are convinced that throughout their history they've been superior to their enemies, and that they suffered for being better. They think so today, labeling NATO as the Satan who wants to destroy peaceful Serbia. As to why I wrote a book about Serbia and not Croatia, the reason is that around 1990 I realized that Serbian elites (who are responsible for the wars) were counting on the Yugoslav people's army to achieve their dominance in a centralized Yugoslavia, and that people in the West had a very distorted idea about the situation in the former Yugoslavia, because Serbs had a monopoly on propaganda in Yugoslavia through most of the 20th century. Thus, my book is essentially a myth-busting book, which could be of enormous help to Serbs if they chose to read it and realize that the concealment of reality through myths is the basic cause of their and their neighbors' calamity.