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The Great Cauldron Reviews

The Great Cauldron by Marie-Janine Calic, Elizabeth Janik

The Great Cauldron

A History of Southeastern Europe

Marie-Janine Calic, Elizabeth Janik

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1 review

Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 28 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9780674983922

We often think of the Balkans as a region beset by turmoil and backwardness, but from late antiquity to the present it has been a dynamic meeting place of cultures and religions. Marie-Janine Calic invites us to reconsider the history of this intriguing, diverse region as essential to the story of global Europe.

4 stars out of 5
Tony Barber
2 Jul 2019

"A panoramic look at the region dispels preconceptions and restores its place in Europe"

Some of the best passages of Calic’s book are her vivid reconstructions of daily life in the region’s big cities and ports, such as Istanbul, Dubrovnik, Thessaloniki, Plovdiv, Belgrade and Sarajevo. She also includes lively sketches of characters such as Skanderbeg, the 15th-century Albanian hero (well known to western Europeans in his day), and Ivan Dominik Stratiko, the progressive Croatian bishop. Calic ends with a touch of optimism: the region’s post-communist states appear on course to join the EU, and “the Balkan countries are in no way fated to remain in the poorhouse of Europe”. But she is realistic, too. “Today state- and nation-building in the former Yugoslavia is not yet finished, and numerous questions of identity, borders and status remain unresolved.”