A few weeks ago, I did a very brief review, based on memory, of George Oor's "Yugoslavia Today" I decided to re-check out the book in order to do a more accurate review of the book.
What we can look forward too:
"A trip across Yugoslavia offers the pleasures of a Mediterranean coastline as well as the exhilarating experience of a holiday in the mountains. For the Westerner making an excursion through the country, there is also the possibility of coming nto contact with ancient civilisations and plunging into the exotic way of life of the Oriental and Moslem worlds."
- Sign me up ;) Although, again maybe I'm too politically correct and overly sensitive but I feel a bit "iffy" about characterising the entire Oriental and Moslem world as "exotic"; in their eyes, Western culture is probably just as "exotic" and "mysterious" and "foreign."
Furthermore, I felt that this was a theme throughout the entire book. Mr. Oor has a tendency, in my view, to portray entire ethnic communities, especially the Muslim community, with a very broad brush stroke; frequently using over generalizations. He has a tendency, more often than not, to instead of showing the complexities and diversities within the religious communities, to base his assesments of entire communities based on the most "traditional" and "conservative" members of that society.
North South Divide:
One of the most interesting observations was his description of the North-South divide within Yugoslavia. As with the larger global North-South divide, the North tends to be more industrial, while the South more agricultural.
Furthermore, he sees the ethno-religious/socio-economic divide as being not "Croat vs. Serb" or "Christian v. Muslim" or even urban vs. rural, but specifically, "Catholic vs. Muslim" with the Orthodox serving as a balancing point between the two.
More gems (snarking time!) Before I get onto some of the beautiful towns & villages of Yugoslavia, in part III of the review (and of course, Bosnia in particular) here is a few more "gems"
"The mountain people of Crna Gora, on the other hand, are sometimes unabashed losers in any laborious exercise..." (He does go on to say that once they set their minds to the task these "unabashed losers" can produce work of astonishing quality.)
How old are we? A photo caption reads, "A familiar sight on the road, a girl spinning wool..." The "girl" in said photo is at least 50 years old.
Earlier in review one, we met the "violent, but hospitable!" Serbs. Today, we'll meet "shiptar" (quotes included in the book) craftsmen who jealously preserve their way of life.
Isn't "shiptar" a racial slur against Albanians? Or at least, a not very politically correct term? Maybe the use of the word has changed over the years, but I do know that from reading various UN ICTY transcripts, "shiptar" was used a racial slur against Kosova/o Albanians, much like "Turk" was used as a slur against Bosniaks.
Onto some good points...
Oor does make specific mention of the religous diversity, pluralism and tolerance found in Bosnia.
There are some absolutely gorgeous photos included in the book, of various Churches, waterfalls, etc. Which I'll discuss in Part III