Book-In-Focus: Bosnian Phoenix: How Bosnia Saved Europe and Made Possible the Modern Age by Miljan P
In November 2017, Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic was convicted in The Hague for crimes against humanity and genocide and was sentenced to life imprisonment—twenty-five years after the Bosnian War. Now, even in times of relative peace, there are underlying currents of conflict that beg for the world’s attention, but few take notice. Unfortunately, in the West, there is little supply of reliable information about Bosnia and Herzegovina and even lesser information about its history. Understanding Bosnian history is paramount to understanding the history of the region, especially those related to the Croats and the Serbs, and understanding its history may just point to us to issue resolutions.
For about a century, Bosnia took the lead in defending Europe from Turkish invasions and was a champion of religious liberty within the Christian world. The history of the region shows that Bosnia has long been at the center of European developments. Different peoples passed through this part of the Balkan region, and some became invaders and left important impressions on the Bosnian people. The Croats, Turks, Slavs, Serbs, among others, influenced the ethnic, religious, political, and military aspects of Bosnian life. However, Bosnia stubbornly retained an identity uniquely its own and struggled to gain independence every time it was under control.
In 1992, right after the United States and the European Community acknowledged the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian War broke out and lasted until the Dayton Agreement was officially signed in 1995, spanning three years of War and wasting over a hundred thousand lives and displacing over 2.2 million people from their homes. Addressing the root cause of the conflict is vital if another war must be prevented in the years to come. Author Miljan Peter Ilich firmly believes “only through a sound understanding of the historical roots of major contemporary conflicts can we hope to obtain a realistic basis for a lasting resolution.” In Bosnian Phoenix, he thoroughly goes through the major historical events that shaped the Bosnia it is today, from the Illyrians, the Ottomans, up to more recent history. He sheds light on the history of a people that has withstood the harassment of its neighbors and provides little-known facts about this small-but-terrible melting pot of cultures.
Bosnian Phoenix should be requisite to studies concerning the Balkans and even Europe. The amount of research that was involved in making such a lengthy book is very impressive, but Ilich does not overwhelm in his use of language and presentation of events or theories. Bosnian Phoenix is a solid reference material.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" This is a solid reference novel that will fill out your knowledge of Bosnia. But more so also the surrounding areas as well as the interconnection between the groups. This book takes you to a little known part of Europe, it explains cultural significance and forgotten histories. It explains myths and legends.
I bought this because I needed some information about the Turkish influence on Bosnia. But I have always interested in how the world became what it is. This book helps to fill out the gaps by explaining the middle ground where the middle east met the west. I found myself constantly surprised as I learned new things about the past and about Europe.
I have to mention that this is a very long book, it’s solid reference material for scholars. People studying will find this a valuable book to own. I would also recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Europe. But for most people this would be a best read over time and not in a single bound. I think this may be one of the best books I’ve read in a while and I will be sure to pass my recommendation on to others."
— Mr P, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
" As a history buff by nature, I have always enjoyed studying different cultures throughout the world; but in reading this book, I was thoroughly impressed by the author's organization and expertise on the subject matter and I must give credit where credit is due. Dr. Ilich provides his readers with a highly intellectual, beautifully written, in-depth historical account of the little known country of Bosnia. There are so many countries that we laypeople know little more about other than what the present day media brings us by way of the network news within stories of world conflict – and Bosnia has certainly not been a stranger to those stories as a European ally. In this book, the author provides an extremely detailed and rich narration of Bosnia's history, its multi-cultural society and the tremendous struggles that its people have fought for and endured (and continue to endure) in order to maintain their independence as a country and freedom of religion. With each chapter, we learn about the tremendous impact that other countries have pressed upon Bosnia's government, economy, land, culture and religions, as well as stories of dramatic development that are so artfully depicted in words that one could easily imagine them made into a movie. In my humble opinion, this work could absolutely serve as a textbook for studying Bosnia. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing more about the country, whether they are a leisurely history buff like myself or someone who is studying global culture as part of their education."
— Loni, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
" This is a well researched, comprehensive look into the forging of a nation, starting from Serbian beginnings and carefully unfolding through an incredible history into what Bosnia has become today. Now, I will admit that I don’t know much about most European countries past some basic knowledge, compounded by whatever I’ve seen make headlines in international news. Because of this, I was not informed on this subject or its modern implications before reading this book, and pretty much went in blind. However, at no point did I feel lost or confused, and I was able to follow along quite easily. Ilich’s true knowledge and skill really shines through with this, as the mark of a masterful historian is not what they know, but how well they are able to teach. Though it technically can be called a textbook, it never read like one. Granted, this isn’t a quick read (and you should not expect it to be) but the time invested in this will definitely be time well spent. Ilich also covers a lot of ‘unconventional’ history- interesting trivia and other viewpoints of certain events that you generally would not learn in a typical classroom setting- as well as other facts that simply surprised me, like the Bosnia specific religion Bogomilism! I feel like now I know enough to give a factual talk about the history of Bosnia, as well as actually understand how the current political climate can affect other European countries of similar standing. I never expected to become so invested in the struggles and triumphs of the Bosnian people, but I am glad I did. "
— Carolina A, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
" Bosnian Phoenix: How Bosnia Saved Europe and Made Possible the Modern Age by Miljan Peter Ilich is a very detailed non fiction book about the historical importance of the country Bosnia. It contains twenty two chapters of in depth info., detailed history, and stories about past rulers. I do not believe you will find a more detailed collection of info. about this country. If this is a subject you are interested in, this is the book for you!
I find the subject matter very interesting. Bosnia is a little known South Slavic province in the former Yugoslavia. The area now consists of Slovenia (the country where Melania Trump was born), Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina (which is smack in the middle), Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia. Kosovo is the capital of Serbia. I recognized these names, unfortunately because of the fighting that has been going on for some time in these areas. I personally remember Bill Clinton sending troops (and threatening bombs) in the late 90s to help this crisis.
Ilich explains that there are a number of claims about the true origin of Bosnia Herzegovina. The area has been conquered by other nations so many times. Serbians believe that Bosnia is part of Greater Serbia and denies any true Bosnian culture. Bosnian Muslims are nothing more than Turkish occupiers of Serbian territory. Croatians claim almost all of Bosnia as part of Croatia. But even being repeatedly conquered couldn’t stop a unique Bosnian identity and culture from growing and being explored in this educational book."
— Janelle Fila, Amazon Client, Verified Purchase
Reviewed by Amy Alcott
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Miljan Peter Ilich earned a juris doctor from New York University and a PhD from City University of New York and is professor emeritus of law and history at the Technical Career Institute in New York City where he founded the TCI Law Review. Ilich has produced many documentaries, is an ongoing featured panelist of Activism for Peace in Israel and Palestine at the Left Forum Conferences, and has contributed to many publications. His dissertation on International Law is used by Universities and International organizations around the world. Ilich currently lives in Astoria, New York.