From the ashes of former Yugoslavia an independent Croatian state has arisen, the fulfillment, in the words of President Franjo Tudjman, of the Croats' "thousand-year-old dream of independence." Yet few countries in Europe have been born amid such bitter controversy and bloodshed: the savage war between pro-independence forces and the Yugoslav army left about one-third of the country in ruins and resulted in the flight of a quarter of a million of the country's Serbian minority.
In this book an eyewitness to the breakup of Yugoslavia provides the first full account of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Croatia from its medieval origins to today's tentative peace. Marcus Tanner describes the creation of the first Croatian state; its absorption into feudal Hungary in the Middle Ages; the catastrophic experience of the Ottoman invasion; the absorption of the diminished country into Habsburg Austria; the evolution of modern Croatian nationalism after the French Revolution; and the circumstances that propelled Croatia into the arms of Nazi Germany and the brutal, home-grown "Ustashe" movement in the Second World War. Finally, drawing on first-hand knowledge of many of the leading figures in the conflict, Tanner explains the failure of Tito's Communists to solve Yugoslavia's tortured national problem by creating a federal state, and the violent implosion after his death.
Croatia's unique position on the crossroads of Europe—between Eastern and Western Christendom, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans and between the old Habsburg and Ottoman empires—has been both a curse and a blessing, inviting the attention of larger and more powerful neighbors. The turbulence and drama of Croatia's past are vigorously portrayed in this powerful history.