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Balkan Struggles (Hardback)

A Century of Civil War, Invasion, Communism and Genocide

WWII Hitler & the Third Reich 20th Century Military

By Andrew Rawson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 12 black and white maps
ISBN: 9781526761446
Published: 22nd January 2021

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The Balkans witnessed several bloody conflicts during the twentieth century. New nations emerged in 1913, after 500 years of Ottoman rule, only for them to go to war just weeks later. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914 sparked the series of events that led to the Great War. Most of the belligerents would be drawn into the region, while the post-war border changes created tensions.

Italian designs on the Balkans resulted in the occupation of Albania in March 1939, but it failed to take control of Greece over the winter of 1940-41. A German blitzkrieg quickly defeated both Yugoslavia and Greece in the spring of 1941, and the population of both countries then suffered terribly as the occupying forces encouraged collaboration and punished resistance.

The area was rife with guerrilla activity, as monarchists, nationalists and communists fought each other as often as the occupying troops. This, in turn, led to communism sweeping across most of the region in the post-war years, while Greece was taken over by a fascist regime.

Communism eventually ended, but ethnic troubles resulted in a ten-year conflict across Yugoslavia. It would be divided into Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, at the end of the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II.

It’s a fascinating read about a region that has been plagued with terrible conflicts and genocide. I would recommend anyone with an interest in modern warfare take a read of this book... I’m not sure the more recent conflicts will make a period to wargame. Though you could use some of the background for a hypothetical WW3 scenario.

I found the chapters that covered the two world wars of more interest than the more recent conflicts which were very brutal with many of those fighting committing war crimes. I suspect there is more for a historian in this book than a wargamer, but there is some useful information for anyone looking to run a campaign in the region in either the First or Second World War.

Irregular magazine, Issue 16 Volume 2 / Summer 2021 - review by Jason Hubbard

As featured on Balkan Wargamer

Balkan Wargamer
 Andrew Rawson

About Andrew Rawson

ANDREW RAWSON has over forty books to his name, including eight Pen and Sword ‘Battleground Europe’ travel books and three History Press ‘Handbook’ reference books. He has edited the minutes of the Second World War conferences and the top-secret correspondence between George C. Marshall and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He books include covering Poland’s struggle in the twentieth century, Auschwitz Extermination Camp and wartime Krakow. He has also written a ten-part series on the Western Front campaigns between 1914-18. He has a master’s degree with Birmingham University’s history department.

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