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Writer, translator, interpreter, specialist in Albanian studies

 

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Robert Elsie

Historical Dictionary of Kosovo

Second Edition

Historical Dictionaries of Europe, No. 79

ISBN 978-0-8108-7231-8
Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Toronto and Plymouth 2011

451 pp.

    This second edition of the Historical Dictionary of Kosovo, substantially revised and expanded, updates the reader with information on Kosovo and its people until early 2010, that is, through the period of international administration to independence in February 2008, and beyond.
     Kosovo is an ancient land, but it was only really “discovered” by the media and the Western world during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, initially simply as another problem looming on the horizon, somewhere behind Bosnia. Since that time, a flurry of books has been written about Kosovo, the vast majority of which concentrated on the 1998-1999 Kosovo War, the appalling political oppression and human rights situation under Serb rule, the resulting humanitarian and security crisis, the thorny issue of status and independence, and the international politics thereof. Despite all of this attention and the institutionalized presence of the international community since 1999, Kosovo is still not well known as a country.
    The Historical Dictionary of Kosovo endeavors to rectify this problem and to present Kosovo in a broader framework. It focuses not only on many of the above-mentioned issues, which are still worthy of attention, but also hopes to inform the interested reader about Kosovo as a country with a rich culture and a long history, indeed with several cultures and, one might say ironically, several histories. Kosovo is more than just a bothersome security crisis for the West. It is a new European country of some two million people, a land of poets and writers, painters and sculptors, scholars and artists. It is a land of cultural monuments, including finely ornamented Ottoman mosques and old Orthodox churches and monasteries, of oriental bazaars, of battlefields and of breathtaking landscapes. Kosovo is also a country with substantial natural resources and a young and optimistic population teeming to make its homeland an integral part of Europe. It is a young democracy with much potential, yet one that has unquestionably inherited many grave problems from the somber past.
    The majority of the 475 entries in the second edition of this Historical Dictionary of Kosovo are person entries. They comprise not only figures of history, but also contemporary public figures and political leaders, as well as individuals who have made notable contributions to the arts and scholarship.
    While not neglecting the ethnic minorities of Serbs, Bosniacs, Roma and Turks, the present volume mirrors the realities of modern, postwar Kosovo, as a primarily Albanian-speaking country. Accordingly, where not otherwise stated, the person entries refer to individuals from the ca. 92-percent Albanian majority group.
    It is often said that the peoples of the Balkans bite off more history than they can chew. It is to be hoped that this volume will assist readers in digesting some of it and in getting to know Kosovo as a new member of the European family.

 

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