The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans

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9780060954949: The Fracture Zone: My Return to the Balkans

A True Portrait of One of the World's Most Chaotic and Beautiful Regions That Explains Why Violence Has Always Occurred There--And Why It May Continue For Years To Come

The vast and mountainous area that makes up the Balkans is rife with discord, both cultural and topographical. And, as Simon Winchester superbly demonstrates in this intimate portrait of the region, much of the political strife of the past century can be traced to its inherent contrasts. With the aid of a guide and linguist, Winchester traveled deep into the region's most troublesome areas--including Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Turkey--just as the war was tearing these countries apart. The result is a book not just about war but also about how war affects the living. Both timeless and current, The Fracture Zone goes behind the headlines to offer a true picture of a region that has always been on the brink. Winchester's remarkable journey puts all the elements together--the faults, the fractures, and the chaos--to make sense out of a seemingly senseless place.

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Review:

Simon Winchester, a British newspaper reporter for 30 years and the author of 13 books (including The Professor and the Madman), has turned his attention to the Balkans, an area he visited years ago on a road trip from Vienna to Istanbul--a journey he retraced in the spring of 1999. The Fracture Zone describes both of those trips, concentrating on the history and character of the region more than the recent war and its aftermath. Winchester has spent most of his career as a foreign correspondent, but his more recent occupations as historian and a writer for Condé Nast Traveler are in evidence here. Winchester's angle on the Balkans is unique and well written: those who have been bewildered at best and bored at worst by the Balkan conflict may find that The Fracture Zone captures their interest better than hundreds of news accounts of war atrocities. "Why is there, and seemingly always has been, this dire inevitability about the Balkans being so fractious and unsettled a corner of the world?" Winchester wonders aloud. That eternal question continues to plague world statesmen and, though not fully answered here, affords the opportunity for an interesting exploration.

About the Author:

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Map That Changed the World, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.

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