Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing in the 20th Century
Rowman and Littlefield 2011
I was a graduate student in the 1990s when Yugoslavia dissolved into violence. Beginning a dissertation on Habsburg history, I probably knew more about the region than most people in the US about the region. Yet I was just as surprised as anyone else at the scale of the hatred and violence that erupted. With the part of the world I studied enduring atrocity after atrocity, I spent quite a bit of time wondering if graduate study in history was really the best profession to pursue. And I spent a lot of time devouring various accounts to try to understand how such violence could come out of what seemed like nowhere.
Paul Mojzes‘ new book Balkan Genocides: Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing in the 20th Century(Rowman and Littlefield, 2011) ably addresses the second concern. A native of the region, Paul brings a deep understanding of the long-term roots of Balkan violence that many of the initial responses lacked. At the same time, he recognizes the significant changes that accompanied the twentieth century. Moreover, he brings an even-handedness that is rare in discussions of the region.
The result is careful, even-handed examination of history of mass violence in the Balkans. It treats widely-discussed incidents with sensitivity and draws attention to other, little-known persecutions. And it does so with a sensitivity drawn from Paul’s long engagement in interfaith dialogue. While the book clearly functions within the norms of a scholarly work, Paul’s ethical sensibility lies behind it and illuminates his discussion. All in all, his book is a fine contribution to the literature on the subject.
My interview with Paul was just as interesting as his book. I hope you enjoy it.