The Road To Kosovo: A Balkan Diary

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9780813337678: The Road To Kosovo: A Balkan Diary

This first-person, on-the-road travel adventure takes us through one of the most dangerous and hate-filled regions on earth—the former republics of Yugoslavia—and into a land still reeling from months of brutal combat. Told in a fast-paced, rollicking style that's funny, sad, thoughtful, and at times horrifying, The Road to Kosovo shows us war and the struggle for peace through the eyes of a young journalist.Two new concluding chapters, written after the author's 1999 visit to Kosovo, provide a rare, on-the-ground assessment of the impact of the NATO peacekeeping mission and the peace agreement with Milosevic. The poignant scenes of death, confusion, and hopelessness that Campbell observes—not from media tents but from the homes of locals, in their bars, and on the side of the road—hearken ominously back to the first days of the peace mission in Bosnia. A vivid, uneasy picture emerges of a region resistant to lasting peace.

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Review:

In the summer of 1998, freelance journalist Greg Campbell got into a rental car in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and drove across Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro into Kosovo, where Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic had recently begun stepping up an ongoing "ethnic cleansing" campaign against the ethnic Albanians who make up the majority of the region's population. Staying with local journalists--some of whom were also part of the underground Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)--Campbell was forced to confront the consequences of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

But, he notes, what happened in that region is equally, if not ultimately, the consequence of the ineffective "protection" offered by NATO forces, including American troops. Drawing on his observations from a 1996 trip to Bosnia, Campbell elaborates upon the unwillingness of those in command of the implementation (later known as stabilization) forces, or SFOR--particularly the American commanders--to do anything more than the bare minimum required by the 1995 Dayton peace accord. Consequently, many Serbian war criminals enjoyed continued liberty, civil unrest continued to flare, and SFOR blamed local authorities for not solving the problem. Under those conditions, Campbell argues, it was inevitable that Kosovo would become another Bosnia.

The Road to Kosovo provides valuable background on the conflict between the Serbs and the Kosovars and NATO's track record in keeping the peace in the Balkans. It is also filled with chilling images of the chaos and terror of modern war. The book should be read by anyone hoping to understand why the 1999 intervention by NATO could take place--and how it might have to differ from earlier actions in order to be judged a success. --Ron Hogan

About the Author:

Greg Campbell is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Boulder Weekly. He reported a series of articles from Sarajevo just after the Dayton Accord. He lives in Longmont, CO.

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