"In 1991 we were living in Romania. I was working for The Times and The Economist. One day the foreign desk called me and asked me to go to Ljubljana. Slovenia was about to declare independence and someone needed to be there to cover the event. I had already been a few times to cover the developing story of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, but I had always come back to Bucharest. This time I didn’t.

From the first shots of the ten-day war in Slovenia to the ends of the Kosovo war in 1998 and the conflicts in south Serbia and Macedonia in 2001 I covered the whole of the breakup of Yugoslavia and all its wars. Soon after the beginning of the Croatian war we moved to Belgrade, where I was then based, and we remained there until 1995. After that we moved back to London but I continued to cover the region – as I do to this day for The Economist amongst others.

During the wars in Yugoslavia I ran through the cornfields to get into besieged and beleaguered Vukovar. I was in Dubrovnik while Yugoslav Army troops shelled it. I spent the entire Bosnian war criss-crossing the country reporting what was happening.

After the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995 the Times decided they did not need a correspondent in Belgrade anymore because they said that they felt the wars and hence interest in the former Yugoslavia were over. On the very same day Robert Baldock, the head of Yale University Press in London contacted me and asked me if I wanted to write a book. Of course I did. It seemed to me obvious that what was missing was an accessible and readable history of the Serbs. So, I returned to London with the sounds of the siege of Sarajevo literally echoing in my head and wrote this book."

Tim Judah’s book is an ambitious and valiant attempt to bring together the real history of the Serbs and the myths and theories in which that history was handed down.
— Melanie McDonagh, The Evening Standard
Judah writes splendidly. The story he tells does much to explain both the Serb obsession with the treachery of outsiders and their quasi-religious faith in the eventual founding, or rather reestablishment, of the Serbian state.
— Mark Danner, New York Review of Books
Judah’s book is probably the best attempt to date to explain the calamitous situation of the Serbs today through a meticulous consideration of the Serb past.
— David Rieff, Toronto Globe and Mail