This is the first in-depth, English-language history of modern Serbia in nearly half a century. It covers the period from the Serbian state’s revolutionary rebirth in the early nineteenth century, under the rebel leaders Karađorđe Petrović and Miloš Obrenović; its turbulent history of wars, uprisings and dynastic rivalries; the triumph of Yugoslav unification in 1918; and the catastrophe of occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941. It shows how the birth of the modern nation-state involved the creation of a new elite–dynasty, army and bureaucracy–whose rule over the peasantry generated a popular resistance that would ultimately take form in Nikola Pašić’s mighty People’s Radical Party. The resulting struggle between elitist Westernisers and pro- Russian populists became entwined with the struggle for pan-Serb and Yugoslav liberation and unification. These causes came together with the Sarajevo assassination of 1914, which triggered the First World War.
Existing histories of the Yugoslav kingdom that emerged from that war focus on the national conflict between Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims and others, but Marko Attila Hoare challenges this narrative. He shows how the new kingdom’s politics continued to be dominated by the ongoing internal Serbian power struggle, bringing renewed disaster to Yugoslavia and its peoples.