Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War
Julie Mertus provides one of the first comprehensive looks at the explosive situation in Kosovo, where years of simmering tensions between Serbs and Albanians erupted in armed conflict in 1998. In a profound and detailed study of national identity and ethnic conflict, Mertus demonstrates how myths and truths can start a war. She shows how our identity as individuals and as members of groups is defined through the telling and remembering of stories. Real or imagined, these stories shape our understanding of ourselves as heroes, martyrs, conquerors, or victims. Once we see ourselves as victims, Mertus claims, we feel morally justified to become perpetrators.
Based on a series of interviews conducted in Kosovo, Serbia proper, and Macedonia, this book is one of the first extended treatments of the years leading to war in Kosovo. Mertus examines the formation of Serbian national identity, and closely scrutinizes the hostilities of the region. She shows how myth and experience inform the political ideologies of Kosovo, and explores how these competing beliefs are created and perpetuated. This sobering overview of the region provides a window into a complex struggle whose repercussions reach far into the international community.