M R D Foot

Albanian Operations

The Wildest Province: SOE in the Land of the Eagle


Jonathan Cape 406pp £25 order from our bookshop

Roderick Bailey takes his title from Byron, who called Albania in 1809 ‘the wildest province in Europe’, a claim it still contests. Long under Turkish rule, it briefly became independent in 1914, but was conquered by Italy in 1939; much of it then still ran on the feudal system. A little larger than Wales, it was miserably poor, mostly barren and mountainous, with goat tracks rather than roads linking sparse villages inhabited by a verminous, thieving, gossipy peasantry who resented strangers.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter