4 out of 4 stars
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This historical nonfiction book entitled Bosnian Phoenix: How Bosnia Saved Europe and Made Possible the Modern Age by Author Miljan Peter Ilich is undoubtedly an informative and enthralling read. It defines Bosnia’s role in the defense of Europe from Turkey's menacing invasions for over a century and clarifies the myths that surround that country.
The tale unfolds by highlighting the era of the early 1990s in Bosnia. It was a time when the world was disconcerted by the bloody and bitter warfare that shook the regions of the former Yugoslavia; Bosnia and Herzegovina were the focal areas of this warfare. It narrates that throughout the ages different nations such as the Croats, Serbs, and even the Catholic Church had raged many battles in these regions. Many persons from these nations settled there, and overtime multi-ethnic populations were formed. The Illyrians, an Indo-European people who settled throughout the Balkans was one of such multi-ethnic nations. In the Fourth Century B.C., Bosnia and Herzegovina were captured by the Celts who placed purgative in the food of the Illyrians.
The author also mentions Bogomilism. It was a religion that was strongly established in Bosnia in 1203 when the Bosnians agreed to follow Catholic orders. The religion lasted for three centuries and has provided the foundation for Protestantism and the modern western world.
Portrayed in the book are numerous leaders that played significant roles in the history of the featured countries. One of such persons of renown was Matthew Corvinus. For many years after 1463, it was mainly his leadership that kept much of Bosnia proper out of Turkish hands. However, his feud with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III of the Habsburg family made it quite an arduous task. Kulin Ban, son of Boric, is another person of great importance in the history of Bosnia. He ruled Bosnia for approximately 40 years and catapulted that country to great heights. An account is given of how the heir to the Austrian Hungarian throne was assassinated by a young Bosnian which led to the first world war. Suileman, the young new sultan of Ottoman is also highlighted in the book. In 1526, in the conquest of Europe, he had a Turkish victory over Hungary, Bosnia, and Jajce.
The author who has a Ph.D. in history and, a JD in law is also a professor of law and history. He has certainly presented to us an in-depth chronological record of the events regarding Bosnia. The narration is done in the third person, and the mood throughout the book is courage. Because it could only take this great virtue for Bosnia and Herzegonia to defend themselves against the constant attacks of the Turks throughout the ages. I must also add that this courage of the Bosnian people is what I greatly admire about this book. This was displayed by leaders such as Kulin Ban, the son of Boric and, Vlatko who was quite instrumental in the resistance of the Turks.
There is a section of this history that I found particularly disturbing. It is the section which gives an account of how 46 Bosnians were cut in halves alive by the Turks and 3 stomped to death by elephants. This was as a result of them conspiring with the Hungarians against the Turks. I must also add that I agree with the author that it was because of King Tomasi turning against the Bogomils at the request of the papacy that caused Bosnia and Herzegovina to fall into the hands of the Turks and for Europe to be assaulted for many years afterward.
The book consists of 22 Chapters, and the history is outlined in chronological order. The writing style of the author is impeccable, mature and academic. He has described the personality of some persons throughout the passages of the book to be very engaging and at times whimsical. The prose is skillfully used in a manner to convey vivid sceneries of battlefields to the minds of the readers. These are battlefields where wretched war raged and blood-curdling cries of defeat, and victory echoed as one soldier after another slumped to their death. There is also a high usage of pathos and ethos interwoven within the passages of the book that add more flavor, intrigue, and thrill for the readers.
I have noted that bravery and loyalty are promoted in this book. I would recommend it to persons who have a deep interest in and an appreciation for history, especially those on the topic of war. Persons affected by trauma should resist the urge to read this book. However, there are other trauma patients who may find the strength to overcome as there are elements to this book that promotes courage and resistance. I could barely find any errors, and the author has outdone himself by presenting such a detailed account of history. Based on these observations, I will award this book a 4 out of 4 stars rating as it so rightly deserves.
Bosnian Phoenix: How Bosnia Saved Europe and Made Possible the Modern Age
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