"I began to visit Kosovo and write about it from 1991 when I moved to Belgrade. While the Croatian and Bosnian wars raged I would periodically come to see what was happening in Kosovo and the answer was – not much. In that period Serbia held Kosovo very much in its grip and the Kosovo Albanians, while organising their parallel healthcare and education systems listened to their leader Ibrahim Rugova. His message was that if the Albanians tried anything then Slobodan Milosevic would use this as an excuse to start the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and besides it would be foolhardy to try and use violence when Albanians had no access to weapons – unlike the way the Croats and Slovenes had had. All this was to change in 1997 when the uprising in Albania meant that its armouries where thrown open and that suddenly a huge amount of cheap weaponry was now available. After that things moved fast. Everything changed and those who had always been in favour of an uprising now took the upper hand – while the diaspora, which had hitherto loyally contributed tithes to Rugova and his party now switched their funding to that of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
I followed every twist and turn of the conflict. I met KLA organisers in London and followed them to Albania. During the 78-days of NATO’s bombing of the then Yugoslavia I was banned from entering Serbia and Kosovo by the authorities in Belgrade but I returned to Kosovo as soon as Serbia capitulated and watched its security forces withdraw and Serbs flee. Soon afterwards Yale University Press asked me to write this book. With the exception of some of the history which I had to research, the Kosovo: War and Revenge book almost wrote itself. When I sat down to write it, it literally poured out, as I had been thinking and writing about nothing much else but Kosovo for the last couple of years.
In 2008, to coincide with Kosovo’s independence, Oxford University Press asked me to write Kosovo: What Everyone Needs to Know. It is a straightforward grounding to understand the context of modern day Kosovo society. It also explains the key historical facts which in turn explain why Kosovars, be they Albanian or Serb, think the way they do.
Ever since I have continued to write about Kosovo for The Economist and visit frequently to report on its politics, what is changing and what is not. I often travel to north Mitrovica to talk to Serbs there and maintain a range of high-level contacts across the political and economic spectrum. I am a board member of the Kosovar Stability Initiative, one of Kosovo’s leading think-tanks."