What was the war over Kosovo really about? Was it a war at all? And was it a watershed in international history or merely an episode? These two new books offer radically different perspectives. Tim Judah has followed the break-up of Yugoslavia on the ground for much of the time since 1990, and offers the most detailed account so far of what was happening there before Kosovo hit the headlines. Michael Ignatieff was a prominent media voice backing the Nato attack on Yugoslavia. In an earlier book, Blood and Belonging, Ignatieff seemed anxious to counter the demonisation of the Serbs. In the meantime, he has learned to love the Cruise Missile – at least, when launched by New Labour.
Ignatieff’s book reheats his Kosovo journalism. It is high-flying stuff. He has access to the lop levels of Nato, takes a trip on Richard Holbrooke’s plane, and so on. (The only hint of the parochial is his defence of fellow Canadian Louise Arbour, whose position as prosecutor at the Hague