Cover image for Milosevic : a biography
Milosevic : a biography
LeBor, Adam.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
xxx, 404 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Bloomsbury, 2002.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DR2047.M55 L4 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This riveting book presents the first authoritative biography of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader currently on trial for crimes against humanity. Adam LeBor tells the story of Milosevic's life, the wars he instigated in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, his bloody campaigns of ethnic cleansing, and the international operation that brought down his regime.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

What manner of man is Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader during Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration who is currently on trial for war crimes? Not a man of principle or warmth, according to LeBor's biography, but rather one dedicated to the attainment and retention of political power. After Milosevic rigged one election too many, a popular uprising ejected him from office in 2000, a vertiginous fall from the summit for the career communist turned Serb nationalist. Outside of Milosevic's determination to keep Kosovo, however, LeBor discovers much information that casts Milosevic as an exploiter rather than a champion of Serb nationalism. His thorough research indicates how Milosevic would as easily stiff his Serbian clients doing the fighting and ethnic cleansing as toss back a brandy. Embroidering these deadly political machinations with Milosevic's domestic life, an uxorious one centered on his wife, LeBor depicts a consummate opportunist who succeeded, for a while, in riding high while a country disintegrated and an economy descended into gangsterism. A vital addition to the literature on Yogoslavia's catastrophic end. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Drawing on pithy interviews with key players, LeBor (Hitler's Secret Bankers), who covered the Yugoslav wars for the Independent and the London Times, traces Milosevic's rise from a provincial childhood to leader of the Serbian Communist Party and then the Serbian presidency. LeBor absorbingly details Milosevic's self-serving strategizing in the independence movements in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia; his manipulation of Serb nationalist fervor; and his shadowy network of agents and gangsters. Firsthand interviews with Milosevic's wife and collaborator, Mira Markovic, allow LeBor to infuse his account of the Milosevic-Markovic "personal para-state" with insights into the couple's oddly contradictory ideological stances. He depicts their insular family life with obvious distaste for their seeming indifference to the tragic events around them. LeBor presents the West's attempts to abate war in the region as dynamic, if at times misguided; following his account of the peace accords negotiated at Dayton, Ohio, where Milosevic was an honored guest, he soberly remarks that between "statesman or war criminal," finally, "much of the difference, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder." Milosevic's involvement in ethnic cleansing emerges even more explicitly in the endgame of his rule, as Serbia battles the Kosovo Liberation Army. An afterword delivers further proof of Milosevic's guilt from his ongoing trial for genocide at the Hague. This disciplined, dispassionate portrait focuses on the actions of "an autocrat motivated by power." It does not attempt psychological speculation or a more theorized portrait. Highly readable, yet savvy about regionally specific realpolitik, this political biography will greatly enhance the lay reader's understanding of recent events in Yugoslavia. Illus. not seen by PW; maps. Agent, Laura Longrigg. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

LeBor has covered the Balkans for Britain's Independent and the London Times for years. His reporting forms the basis for this new biography of the former president of Yugoslavia, now on trial for crimes against humanity. LeBor traces Milosevic's rise through the ranks under the previous Communist system and his discovery of a Serb nationalism that had long festered below the political surface of the country. Unlike those around him, Milosevic did not believe in the nationalist rhetoric of his speeches but used it in a calculated plot to seize and hold power. Even as the demons of war that he had unleashed spun out of control during the 1990s, he clung to the same handle while becoming increasingly isolated in his presidential world. In LeBor's opinion, Milosevic must have known of the atrocities and ethnic cleansing that occurred on his watch, although he has not found concrete proof. While not able to interview Milosevic himself, the author has interviewed his close contacts and family members extensively. Other recent biographies of Milosevic include Louis Sell's Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia and Lenard Cohen's Serpent in the Bosom. Libraries that do not have either title will find LeBor's a fine choice, and all libraries collecting heavily in this area should include this new work. Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Contained within the pages of LeBor's solid biography of Slobodan Milosevic is the story of the struggle for identity that has bedeviled Serbians for centuries. This search for national identity is personal as well as political, fueled by Serbian culture as well as the dream of national integration. The life of Milosevic is also another profile in the catalog of authoritarian personalities. A relatively friendless but driven Milosevic moves up the communist party ladder as an apparatchik who, like Josef Stalin, preferred working behind the scenes in secretary positions. Milosevic's rise to the top of the Party is a complex blend of opportunism and unsympathetic ruthlessness. Careful to position himself between those who sought a free market and authoritarian communists who became nationalists after Tito's death, Milosevic used cunning and a willingness to sacrifice others who had helped him. Milosevic vaulted to a position that revealed his true nationalist ambitions in an authoritarian system bent on ethnic cleansing. As Milosevic's trial continues in The Hague, LeBor's book offers insight into what happens when broken personalities come to power in a cauldron such as post-Tito Serbia. LeBor's lucid and cogent volume reminds us that the bloodiest of dictators are often among the most banal and pedantic personalities. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. A. R. Brunello Eckerd College