‘Entertaining and timely … Barnett makes good use of Tito’s official memoirs and recorded recollections … While allowing the regime to speak with its own voice, Barnett also points out the fabrications, where ideological lessons upstaged factual accuracy.’
‘Neil Barnett’s engaging and elegant biography is an invaluable resource for those who want to understand better the enigmatic statesman who bequeathed so many vexing national and territorial questions.’
The charismatic, near-mythological figure of Josip Broz Tito was many things: an inspirational partisan leader and scourge of the Germans during their occupation of Yugoslavia in the Second World War; a doctrinaire communist but an ever-present thorn in Moscow’s side; an oppressor, a dictator, a reformer, and a playboy. He managed Yugoslavia’s internal tensions through personality, force of will, and political oppression.
It was only after his death in 1980 that the true scale of this feat was understood; the country’s institutions and politicians were then revealed as rudderless, and the country created by Tito – a Croat turned Yugoslav – collapsed into a bloody and at times genocidal civil war. These ethnic conflicts were Tito’s nightmare, yet, as Neil Barnett shows in this short but engaging biography, they were in many ways the result of his own myopic egomania.
NEIL BARNETT has written on the Balkans for the Guardian and the Spectator and is now chief executive of Istok Associates, a corporate intelligence and investigations consultancy.